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September 15 at 23:34, the wooden building of the camp "Victoria" in Odesa has caught fire. Local rescue service received a message about a fire at the children's camp. At the time of the fire, 42 children were in the building.
The State Emergency Service reported that because of the wind, the fire spread rapidly over flammable wooden structures and the neighboring buildings were also threatened. Rescuers say that the tragedy was also followed by lack of the water in fire reservoir (it was filled by a third) and low pressure in the existing fire hydrant.
Children were evacuated by the camp administration before the arrival of the fire fighters and rescuers, but three girls from the room number 11 of Building No. 5 were forgotten.
The State Emergency Service said that as of 01:54, fire was liquidated from the area of 560 square meters.
Eyewitnesses said that the children jumped out of the windows to escape the fire. At least one child was injured as a result of jumping out of the window, two more were poisoned by combustion products.
Initially, there were no reports about the victims of the fire. Subsequently, firefighters found bodies of two girls. Another girl was considered missing.
The next day after the fire, local police reported that human remains were found. Later, Ukrainian president's authorized representative for children's rights Mykola Kuleba said that three girls were killed by the fire: 8-year-old Sofia Mazur, 9-year-old Nastya Kulynych, and 12-year-old Snizhana Arpentiy. They were pupils of the children’s showcase dance ensemble "Adele."
Relatives of the 12-year-old Snizhana Arpentiy believe that she has escaped, and continue the search. There was information that a girl like Snizhana was noticed on one of the streets. The police confirmed that the search continues.
State Emergency Council notes that the most likely cause of a fire is "crash of electrical appliances." They say that they are located in the room number 4 on the ground floor of the building, and this was the room of the teacher.
Reconstruction of the children's health and sports complex "Victoria" started in 2014. The reconstruction project provided for the major renovation of the three-story building, as well as demolition of six one-story wooden buildings that were built in the 50's. New two-story buildings of wooden carcass were built in their place.
In 2016, City Mayor Hennady Truhanov assured that "Victoria" would be the best public complex in Ukraine. Last year, it was opened after the repair. "Nashi grosi" anti-corruption media program stated that in the summer of 2016, the management of capital construction of the Odesa City Council has got 420 thousand dollars for additional reconstruction works in the children's camp "Victoria", among which there were works on installing automatic fire alarms in new wooden buildings.
But the police said that the alarm did not work in the building. Later it was found out that the sound-light fire alarm system had not been working for several months, it was intentionally turned off. Firefighters checked the camp on June 23, 2017 and found violations, in particular the disabled alarm. Camp administration denounced the agreement with "Ukrtekhbezpeka" company, which should maintain this system. Person responsible for fire safety was fined and received an order to eliminate violations, but nothing was done.
"In 2016, a modern fire-fighting alarm system was purchased, installed and put into operation in the camp, but then it was intentionally brought to an inoperative state," said Mykhailo Vovk, deputy head of the Main Department of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Odesa region, adding that the system was disconnected from the remote control panel.
Odesa Mayor Trukhanov said that, according to his data, the alarm was made in accordance with the project approved by the State Emergency Service. In addition, he said that during the construction of the camp all the fire safety standards were fulfilled, including the processing of wooden structures with fire fighting compounds.
Expert-chemist, member of "Group of May 2" independent journalist investigative organization Vladyslav Balynsky questioned the words of the officials. He said that during the inspection of the camp, violations were found that could have caused the terrible tragedy.
Police opened criminal proceedings on the fact of fire. Two suspects were detained: director of the children's camp "Victoria" Petros Sarkisyan and the employee of the camp, who, according to the functional duties, was to be responsible for fire safety in the health facility. They were informed of suspicion of violation of fire safety requirements, which entailed the death of children (Part 2, Article 270 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). The prosecutor's office in court demands their arrest.
In addition, the prosecutor's office began a pre-trial investigation in criminal proceedings on the facts of negligence of officials of the district department of the State Service for Emergency Situations and officials of the City Council. During the searches, law enforcement officers withdrew documentation regarding commissioning, functioning, and checking of the children's camp.
September 16, 2017 parents of children who rested in the camp came to the building of Odesa City Hall. Together with the activists, they tried to storm the building, demanding a meeting with the city's head. There were several clashes between those who came to the mayor's office and the policemen who were on duty. The protesters brought the tires. There was also information that a light-emitting grenade exploded near the building.
Trukhanov himself said that he did not absolve the responsibility of the city council. He assured that the mayor's office will facilitate the investigation. Vice Prime Minister - Minister of Regional Development, Construction and Housing Hennady Zubko demanded that Trukhanov remove all officials who might influence the investigation.
Head of Odesa regional state administration, Maksym Stepanov, says that a complete check should be carried out: what materials, what kind of fire fightingб and fire alarm system were used. In addition, in his opinion, employees of the State Audit Service should be involved in the investigation, because large sums of money were spent on camp restoration.