Arson investigated as cause of Kuldīga fires

Local officials are not ruling out arson as the cause of a series of Easter holiday fires that damaged nine buildings in the historic heart of the western Latvian city of Kuldīga, media reports say.

The fires, which are estimated to have caused about LVL 100,000 in losses, began about 5 p.m. April 12, according to the local newspaper, Kurzemnieks. The fires burned several structures considered to be of historical value.

Kuldīga has only two fire trucks, but assistance came from several neighboring towns and as far away as Jūrmala, the newspaper reported. In all, about 25 fire trucks were called to fight the blaze.

Local firefighters were called out at 5:07 p.m. to a report of a fire in a shack on Smilšu Street, Kurzemnieks reported. Soon after, reports came in that a shack between Putnu and Liepāja streets was on fire, as well the roof of the old hospital on O. Kalpaka Street. Other buildings on Putnu Street also began burning.

“It’s obvious that the fire was set intentionally,” reporter Edgars Liepiņš wrote in a story posted on the paper’s Web site. State fire officials and police are investigating, according to the national daily newspaper Diena. The cause of the fire may also have been accidental.

The fire spread because of high winds, some media reports suggest.

Although no one was hurt in the fire, two families were left homeless.

The Kuldīga City Council is expected to ask the state government for at least LVL 80,000 in assistance to repair or rebuild the structures.

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

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