Hospital fire caused by faulty cables

A fire at Turku University Hospital on Friday 2nd September was caused by a short circuit in out-of-date electrical cabling, according to reports.

Veli-Pekka Nurmi, the director of Finland’s Accident Investigation Board, said the fire was able to spread quickly through the building because the pipe ducts and cables were not fitted with proper seals.

A total of 168 staff members and patients, some of which were still in their hospital beds and under anaesthetic, had to be evacuated in the early hours of the morning when the automatic fire alarm sounded. There were no fatalities, but three hospital workers had to be treated for smoke inhalation.

With police and rescue personnel assisting the Investigation Board, it was concluded on Saturday where the fire started, but not how. “An electric cable was probably already damaged or the short circuit occurred at a poorly soldered contact,” Nurmi said. He added to YLE that “cat-size” openings across the building prevented the fire doors from containing the blaze.

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of euros will be needed for the repairs to the building, which contained a trauma ward, accident & emergency department and two medicine departments. The hospital’s insurance companies will be charged with picking up the tab.

Juha Rantasalo, technical director for the Turku University Hospital, said, “It is a pity building inspectors did not have the same knowledge on safety issues 20 to 30 years ago as they do today.” He added, however, that the construction company cannot be held responsible for the disaster.