Eighty-three people were hospitalized suffering from smoke inhalation after a fire broke out at a pensioners' club in the basement of a building in Bat Yam on Monday afternoon. Five of the victims were seriously injured and the rest, including four policemen, lightly-to-moderately after being evacuated from the 12-story building by the Fire and Rescue Service, which took about two hours to get the blaze under control. The injured were taken to Wolfson, Ichilov and Assaf Harofeh hospitals. Avi Peretz, commander of the Holon-Bat Yam fire service, said that when he arrived at 3:30 his initial aim was to rescue the wounded and the pensioners, of whom there were about 20. "It was full of smoke and there was a strong smell," he said. "We took the injured out first on ladders, and then we took the children out via the stairs and ladders." By press time, the service hadn't determined the cause of the blaze. Asst.-Cmdr. Aharon Aksool, chief of the Ayalon region, said the thick smoke was caused by the plastic casings that were present in the pensioners club. "The smoke then entered the apartments and the stairwells," he said. However, he didn't believe that it would be too long before the residents could return to their flats. "There is no problem in living in the building, the flats weren't burned. It's more there is a strong smell of smoke," he said. "Once the smoke has gone, I assume that in the next few hours people will be able to return to their houses after it has been decided that there is no danger." In the meantime, the city council provided assistance to the evacuated residents and guards to prevent looting, said Aksool. The fire in Bat Yam is the latest in a series over the last few weeks. Last month, 51 people were injured when a fire erupted in an eight-story building on one of the main roads in Petah Tikva, and a gas explosion in an apartment building in Haifa killed an 82-year old man.