“On January 21 at about 3 p.m. a fire started on 150B Nyzhnya Hyivska Street in Kharkiv. It broke out on the second floor of the two-story residential building, previously converted into a nursing home. As of 3:50 p.m., the bodies of 15 people were found at the site of the fire, five people were injured. The area of the fire is 100 square meters,” states the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in the Kharkiv region.
The fire could have started due to faulty electrical equipment. Earlier this version was voiced by Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova. Later this was confirmed during the meeting in the Kharkiv city council by the head of the Kharkiv city department of Kharkiv State Emergency Service of Ukraine Volodymyr Yurchenko.
Yurchenko states that the escape routes were violated in the building, bars were installed on the windows in violation of fire safety. “People have just suffocated,” he said.
According to Yurii Shparaha, a director of the Kharkiv R egional State Department of Social Protection Administration, the nursing home was not officially registered. It means that the institution was not legally listed in the registers to deliver care.
Arsen Avakov, Minister of the Interior of Ukraine, reported at the emergency government meeting that the nursing house called “Zoloty Chas” (Ukrainian: Golden Time) does not exist according to the documents. In particular, it doesn’t exist on the city plans.
Secretary of the Kharkiv city council Ihor Terekhov instructed the representatives of district administrations to perform inspections of all sites in the city to determine similar facilities.
Terekhov states at the briefing that the owner of the nursing home owns four similar objects. “There is a deed of ownership of this object, it is a residential building with an area of 351.5 sq.m. and a living space of 115.2 sq.m. Think about these numbers … how could so many people [Kh.O.: 33 people] live in such housing?” he said.
The Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office initiated criminal proceedings on the fact of violation of fire safety requirements established by law, which resulted in the death of people under Part 2 of Art. 270 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
“As of January 22 under the criminal proceeding on the point of violation of the requirements of fire safety law that caused the death of people according to Art. 208 ‘Detention by an authorized official,’ authorities confirmed four people were detained including a homeowner who rented the building for a retirement house, as well as the tenant of the house and his wife, who actually ran the house. Also, the administrator, who coordinated the work of the hospice but was not officially employed there was detained. All of them are being notified of suspicions and requests for precautionary measures,” informs Prosecutor General.
There are not any documents for commissioning for this building and the senior center operated without obtaining special permits provided by law.
Investigations are currently on-going.
Ukrainian authorities declared January 23 a national day of mourning.
Text: Natalia Ivanova
Photo: rupor.info, Iryna Venediktova’s FB page