TALLINN – Thirty-three people have lost their lives in fires in Estonia since the beginning of this year, and in half of the fires that claimed a human life alcohol played a role.
Looking at the first ten months of the year, the number of fire deaths has increased compared to previous years. Between January and the end of October of this year, 30 people died in fire accidents. Last year, the number of casualties in the same period was 27 and in 2019 it was 29.
"Looking at the profile of those killed in the fires, the sad fact is that the majority, or three in four, of the fatalities were elderly people, with an average age of 66. In half of the cases, or 15, the person who died had previously consumed alcohol," Viktor Saaremets, head of the prevention department at the Rescue Board, said.
He added that drinking alcohol is often accompanied by smoking, which further increases the likelihood of a fire accident.
So far this year, at least seven people have died in fires that started from careless smoking.
Another frequent cause for residential fires is a faulty and obsolete electrical system. At least nine people have died in fires that started from the electrical system this year.
"With an outdated and faulty electrical system, it is only a matter of time before an accident occurs. Often, old electrical systems cannot cope with the load of modern household appliances and overloads occur. Decades-old electrical cables have often become brittle or have been inappropriately repaired. This also increases the risk of a fire breaking out," Saaremets said.
Of the residential buildings authorized for use, in which a fire that claimed a human life or lives broke out this year, only six homes had a functioning smoke detector.