Five people, including three young children, died in a house fire in Tartu on Tuesday night.
At 11:58 pm on Tuesday, a resident of Ihaste reported a neighbouring house on Koidutähe Street was on fire to the Alert Center, the Rescue Board said.
"A neighbor reported the house was full of fire and smoke and the flames were starting to come out from under the roof. He had to start protecting his own house with a garden hose. Unfortunately, when the rescuers arrived, the picture had become much worse," spokesperson for the Rescue Board Marek Kiik told ERR.
While rescuers of Annelinn commando arrived within six minutes, it was practically impossible to enter the house at that point, Kiik said. The bodies of a man, woman, and three children were found by rescue workers.
The cause of the fire is currently unknown. The interior of the house, which was wooden and two-storey, was destroyed by the fire.
During the rescue, a leaking gas cylinder was brought out of the premises. The prosecution and the police will investigate the causes and circumstances of the fire.
The Director General of the Rescue Board Kuno Tammearu expressed his deepest sympathy for the relatives of the family who died at night in Tartu on Wednesday morning. "The Rescue Board is thinking of you," Tammearu said in a statement.
This year, 39 people have lost their lives due to fires in Estonia. "Nothing we do will bring back the people who have already gone, but we have to ask how we can prevent such tragic events," said Tammearu.
He stated that the causes of this tragic event are not yet known, but that everyone can take immediate action to prevent this from happening again. "Let's look around our homes, make sure the smoke detector is in working order. Check the fireplaces and the electrical systems are in order. Avoid leaving open fires unattended, especially Christmas time, and to heat the oven wisely. And if there is a fireplace, stove or gas appliance in the home, a carbon monoxide detector should also be installed."
The city of Tartu and Mayor Urmas Klaas also extend their condolences on Wednesday to the relatives, friends, and acquaintances of the family who died in the fire.
Klaas called the situation a very tragic incident and said this has never happened before in Tartu. "We have lost a young family with three young children and are shocked by what has happened. We are mourning and expressing our deepest sympathy for the family of the deceased."
The mayor invited all people to be attentive to their fellow citizens, to notice them and to help as needed.
Editor: Helen Wright