Fire Exits Blocked: Russian Shopping Mall Blaze

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Russia -- A fire at a Russian mall killed 64 people because "serious violations" of fire code were ignored.

A fire broke out on Sunday afternoon, when the mall was busy.  The mall was a former sweet factory that was 23,000 square meters.  The mall had bowling, a children's center, a petting zoo, and more. 

The mall was filled with children, and many of the victims are believed to be children.  At this point, 41 children are missing.  It has not been confirmed whether or not these children are among the count of the 64 victims that were killed.




Thick black smoke was coming from the shopping center windows.  Around 100 people were evacuated, and others were trapped.  Of the surviving victims, 44 ended up in the hospital and 10 are still being treated.  Some patrons jumped from windows to escape.  Rescue workers checked the first and second floors.  The third and fourth floors have not been checked.  It is believed that the fire started on one of those floors near a cinema.

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"They cannot make it through yet, as the temperature is high there," said first deputy Evgeny Dedyukhin.

Several violations were discovered:

  • blocked fire exits
  • shut-down fire alarm
  • safety rule violations

Patrons were banging on the emergency exits, trying to get out of the mall.  They found them to be inoperable.  "Investigators have already received evidence pointing to glaring violations that led to such grave consequences," said Svetlana Petrenko in an investigative committee statement.  She continued, "It turns out that the fire exits were blocked."  It was also stated that a security guard might be arrested who "turned off the alarm system upon receiving a signal about the fire."



 

The fire has seen four detained, including the tenant where the fire started.  It isn't known yet how the fire started.

According to rferl.org, negligence, cost-cutting, corruption, and ignoring safety rules are blamed for the many fires in Russia.    The International Association of Fire and Rescue Services reported that in 2014 Russia had 10,068 fire deaths while the United States had 3,275 during the same time period.