Fire at Estonia's refugee center investigated as arson

Vao pagulaskeskus

PHOTO: Marianne Loorents/Virumaa Teataja

A fire that spread to about ten square meters of the outside lining of the building of the accommodation center for asylum seekers in Vao village in north-central Estonia early on Thursday morning is being investigated as arson.

The emergency center received a phone call at 4:30 a.m. about the exterior wall of the accommodation center for asylum seekers in Vao village of the Vaike-Maarja rural municipality having caught fire. Rescuers put out the fire that had spread to about ten square meters of the lining and no one was injured.

When fire teams arrived on the scene smoke was coming out from under the lining and residents had been instructed to leave the building. The blaze was put out in about ten minutes. The fire had not spread to the inside of the building and fire teams finished their work putting out the fire at 5:44 a.m.

Indrek Link, head of the regional police office of Rakvere, said that even though no one was injured in the fire what happened was extremely serious. "There were more than 50 people, including 13 children inside the building when the blaze broke out. This may have had very grave consequences," he said.

Senior prosecutor Sirje Merilo, leading the investigation, said an investigation ahs been opened on the basis of the article of the Penal Code dealing with arson. Police and prosecutors are calling on everyone who has information about the cause of the fire to come forward.

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