A 2/1999 Y Fire at senior citizen service house Viljami at Maaninka on 4 December, 1999 and 17 other fires at corresponding homes during December 1999 - February 2000
Saturday evening on 4 December 1999 just after 23.00 hours, a senior citizens’ service block Viljami caught fire in the centre of Maaninka municipality. In the fire five residents died. The fire started in flat no. 2 whose resident was badly burned. The residents of the two adjacent flats and two opposite flats died of carbon monoxide poisoning before being rescued out of the building via the doors of the patios.
The fire most probably started as a table lamp fell down on the floor from a chest of drawers used as bedside table in flat no. 2. The fallen lamp probably ignited a textile close by.
The building was divided into three fire sections. Also the attic was divided into the corresponding fire sections up to the roof. Moreover each flat was structured as a fire section of its own. This fire sectioning conforming with the relevant regulations in force actually prevented a spreading of the fire for the requisite length of time. However, the fire spread to the whole building, as the rescuing of the lives of the residents was prioritized over an efficient fire fighting operation which was only engaged in about 1 hour and 45 minutes from the starting of the fire.
The fire spread to the attic of the entire building and the corridors and halls of the block house and to some flats in the vicinity of flat no. 2. The other flats suffered water damage and smoke damage of varying degrees. The building was completely destroyed.
In terms of rescue operations, the situation was problematic as the residents were totally incapable of helping themselves. The Kotikulma part in the west wing of the Viljami service block consisted of seven flats designed for senior citizens suffering from dementia. Hence it was impossible for them to help themselves. Kotikulma was separated from the other premises of Viljami by a plywood wall and a locked door. The residents in Kotikulma could only leave the building with the help of others. One of the altogether eight Kotikulma residents suffering from dementia managed to leave the building on her own. The others were collected in their beds by the rescue workers. The remaining residents of the block were also incapable of rescuing themselves.
The enclosed investigation report includes three sections.
Section I consists of an Investigation Report on a fire in the senior citizens' service house Viljami, at Maaninka, Finland, on 4 December 1999.
Section II consists of brief Investigation Reports on 17 fires or starts of fire in senior citizens' service houses or corresponding homes, over the period from 1st December 1999 to 29 February 2000.
Section III consists firstly of a survey drawn up by the Accident Investigation Board of Finland on the safety status of senior citizens' housing conditions and secondly, of safety recommendations elaborated by the Accident Investigation Board of Finland, as based on the data and experiences yielded by the fire incidents referred to in the above mentioned Sections I and II.
Press release 19.6.2002