28 июня 2015 21:02

Fire in Petropavlovsk pizza house spreads to 5-storey apartment building


Photo courtesy of witnesses Photo courtesy of witnesses

A big fire has claimed a cafe, spread to the neighboring apartment house and left hundreds of people homeless, Tengrinews reports.

A big fire has claimed a cafe, spread to the neighboring apartment house and left hundreds of people homeless, Tengrinews reports.

The fire took place in Petropavlovsk, a city in northern Kazakhstan, at the crossing of Ulyanov and Zhumabayev streets. It started at around noon this Saturday, June 27, in a cafe called Pizza House. 

Even though a fire fighting crew arrived only 3 minutes after the alert - even before most people realized that there was a fire in the cafe - they failed to prevent the fire from spreading to the neighboring apartment house located 8 meters away from the cafe. The corner of the building closest to the cafe caught fire at around 1 p.m. and the flame quickly climbed to the roof. 

The flames kept raging until 3:20 p.m. when the firefighters eventually managed to take control of the situation. They extinguished the fire at 4:25 p.m.

The damage was huge - the cafe burned down entirely, the 6-entrance 5-storey apartment building lost its entire roof to the fire, apartments in the three entrances nearest to the cafe from the third floor and up were badly damaged and no longer suitable for living without extensive repairs, same happened to the top floor apartments in the entire building. Two apartments were destroyed completely.

The scale of the fire was so large that it was awarded the third (highest) degree. The firefighting operation involved in 22 vehicles and 70 firefighters, according to the municipal authorities. The fire engines were combating the flames from 5 different angles. 

104 people were evacuated from the apartment house. The area was cordoned off by the police to ensure safety and order and prevent attempts of pillaging.

The municipal authorities said that there was no way the spreading of the fire to the apartment building could be avoided. 

However, many of the witnesses did not share this opinion. According to the residents of the burnt house, three fire engine arrived early when the fire was still small and limited to the cafe. But they quickly run out of water and had no means to refill. The fire was still ranging in the cafe at around 1 p.m. when two of the crews were out of water and the third crew was shooting the cafe from their hose when the the corner of the nearby apartment house caught fire. However the crew continued shooting the cafe with water, and made few to no attempts to stop the spreading.

Then the firefighters had to wait for two more full fire engines to arrive from Bishkul in the outskirts for the city to their aid. They arrived within the next 40 minutes, but by that time the apartment house was in full flame.

"I was vacationing with my family at the dacha when we got a phone call and heard that the house was on fire. My mother and I returned home in half an hour, managed to save our pets and documents. The upper floors were badly damaged by the fire by that time. Hopefully, all this will all be over soon," said a resident of the damaged house Yana Suhonosova. 

Representatives of the Akimat of Petropavlovsk, the municipal authorities, met with residents of the burned building at 7 p.m. the same day. According to their statement, it was impossible to prevent the fire from spreading to the apartment building, the residents were evacuated in time, and the firefighters did a good job. Representatives of the Akimat and many of the residents agreed that firefighters worked quickly, thanks to their efforts, the fire did not spread to other apartment buildings and there were no casualties. 

The Akimat promised to rebuild the roof of the house at its own expense within 2 or 3 weeks. The reconstruction works began today. 

No preliminary cause of the fire was announced. According to the unofficial version the fire started because of a short circuit in the cafe. The accident is still being investigated. 

As for the damaged apartments and other property, Akimat promised no financial or other aid. Since Pizza House was the source of the fire that damaged the apartments, all the residents are going to be claiming their damages from the cafe. Owners of the burned cafe did not appear at the meeting with the residents or made any comments on the accident. At this point the homeless fire victims are on their own.

By Diana Abdulmanova and Tatyana Kuzmina

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