Three men died in an apartment fire in the Setomaa village of Mikitamäe in the early hours of Wednesday morning, the Rescue Board said.
Two of the victims were found dead in the first-floor apartment where the fire had originated; a third body was found in the apartment above, which was filled with smoke when rescuers reached it, according to a press release.
Emergency services were notified at 3:11 a.m. on December 7 that a fire was burning in a two-story apartment building with three stairwells located on Soelaane tänav.
The fire had broken out some time prior, however, and by the time rescuers arrived at the scene, open flames and thick smoke could be seen through the window of the first-floor two-room apartment, the unit's front door was on fire and the flames had already started to spread through the walls to the vacant apartment next door as well as the apartment above.
Professional rescuers from the Räpina, Värska and Põlva rescue brigades as well as volunteers from Orava responded to the deadly fire; rescue operations concluded at 6:19 a.m.
The Rescue Board said residents of the first-floor apartment to catch fire were frequent users of alcohol and would smoke indoors; since 2017, rescuers had repeatedly visited the home to provide fire safety counseling to its residents. According to their data from the latest such visit, there had been a working smoke detector in the apartment, however no evidence thereof was found following Wednesday's fire.
Nearly half of all deadly fires are caused by careless indoor smoking or handling of fire, the Rescue Board said.
A total of 39 people have died in fires in Estonia to date this year, including four in Võru County.
Editor: Aili Vahtla