BERLIN, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Billowing clouds of black smoke could be seen for miles around the western German city of Monchengladbach Thursday after a container, which was being used to house refugees, was set alight on Thursday morning.
Local police has confirmed that an arrest has been made after arson was suspected as the cause of the fire. The police department has not yet released the identity of the suspect but has confirmed that the detainee is a 21-year-old male. The arrest was made after other local witnesses accused the man of starting the fire.
The container area is being used to house some 100 refugees who are waiting for their asylum application to be processed. Locals have been advised to close all doors and windows after the incident, to avoid inhaling the toxic fumes emanating from the container.
The local fire department dealt with the scene and the fire was under control by midday. There are no reports of anyone seriously injured and the reason for the fire is still unclear.
There are similar locations in the Monchengladbach, as well as other German cities and towns, where asylum seekers wait for their paperwork to be processed.
Since 2015, Germany has been under the spotlight for its immigrant integration policies and has suffered from right wing backlash in government as well as rising civil tension.
In response to the global refugee crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel opened Germany's doors in 2015 to asylum seekers and received over 1 million refugee applications in one year and subsequently accepted 890,000 applications.
Germany has continued to accept large amounts of refugees in 2016, however the number has sharply declined since 2015 to 305,000.
Pressure on the government has been mounting since 2015 and intensified after the December 2016 terrorist attack on a Christmas market in downtown Berlin where 12 people died. Attacks against refugees or hate related crimes as well as extreme right-wing protests are also on the rise.
According to The Washington Post, a poll conducted by GlobeScan in 2016 and commissioned by the BBC found that Germans were less likely to consider themselves "global citizens" compared with other citizens in large countries.