26 die as fire destroys Alsunga elderly home

Twenty-six people are believed to have died early Feb. 23 as fire swept through a retirement home in the small town of Alsunga in western Latvia, authorities and media reported. Faulty wiring and incorrect use of electrical heating devices are being blamed for the tragedy.

Firefighters saved 66 people from the blaze, the news agency LETA reported. Firefighters were still at the scene by midday Feb. 23 and still had not located all the bodies, Latvian State Radio reported.

The fire was reported at about 1:30 a.m. at the Specialized State Social Care Home “Reģi.” The home is on territory once belonging to the local manor and its main building was constructed in 1890. The facility had room for 84 mentally ill elderly residents, according to an overview of its 2005 activities.

President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga expressed her condolences to the families of the victims.

“This has been a night of misfortune and tragedy in Latvia,” she wrote in a letter to the families. The families are not alone in their pain, Vīķe-Freiberga added, calling the event a national tragedy.

The loss of life is the greatest in a fire in recent Latvian history, news media reported, citing the State Fire and Rescue Service.

Alsunga is about 20 kilometers west of Kuldīga and about halfway between the port cities of Ventspils and Liepāja.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

One thought on “26 die as fire destroys Alsunga elderly home

  1. Tragic loss of life on Latvian soil. Once again we are reminded of a tragic loss of life on Latvian soil. Life that should NOT have been placed in harms way by the caretakers of our country. Its all about leadership! Latvia needs to develop a culture of awareness for importance of protecting the health and safety of its citizens. Even more, each Latvian needs to develop the same awareness and desire to protect ones heath and safety. Consider this ….. Creating in one of the Latvian Ministries an official department for Safety Awareness. Making some one with charm and persuasive talents in charge. Ask Raymond Pauls to be the official spokesman: Have him create a few creative music jingle songs on safety awareness. Develop a mass media public awareness campaign, newspapers, Internet portals, TV ads, talk shows, radio spot commercials, bus advertising, give away reflector arm bands, posters for the office. And more importantly get into the schools with 30 minute class sessions

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