‘arson’: Apartment on fire in Paris, France. Photo: SOCIALS

A fire allegedly started by a mentally ill woman tore through an apartment block in Paris, killing at least nine people in the early hours of Tuesday.

Police said they arrested a 40-year-old woman who lived in the building on suspicion of starting the blaze in the upscale 16th arrondissement.

Firefighters in breathing apparatus scaled ladders to rescue residents stranded on balconies on the eight-storey block on Rue Erlanger.

Some were hoisted down on ropes and at least one person abseiled to safety.

Thirty-six people were injured, including firefighters, authorities said.

Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz said investigators believed the fire was started deliberately and a woman had been detained. He said the woman had mental health issues.

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