Russian Rehab Fire Kills 38

By Bryan Le 04/26/13

The incident is the latest in an unfortunate international trend of fatal rehab fires.

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Firefighters at what's left of the facility.
Photo via

A fire burned down a Russian psychiatric hospital near Moscow early this morning, killing 38 patients and two staffers. The incident is the latest in an unfortunate trend in the country, where fires in nursing homes and medical facilities have led to dozens of deaths, often because of patients being trapped inside. Irina Gumennaya, a spokeswoman for the Russian Investigative Committee, said the fire started on a sofa, and investigators suspect that it was started by a recovering addict who was smoking (against fire code violations) to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. “[One of the survivors] woke after smelling smoke, then heard some scratching sounds and ran out of the burning building,” said Gumennaya, indicating that "careless handling of fire, including as a result of smoking, was the most likely cause of the blaze.” A nurse was only able to save two patients, and police say the rest either died in their beds or were trapped inside by the barred windows. Fires are a huge problem in Russia, due in part to high rates of alcoholism and smoking, inadequate firefighting equipment, old electrical and heating systems, as well as widespread safety code violations. In 2006, a rehab clinic in Moscow burned down, killing 45. Fatal rehab fires have been reported in other parts of the world as well; in Peru in 2012, fires trapped and killed patients at the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Christ is Love facilities.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter