A fire at one of the blocks at the Victoria children’s camp on the Black Sea coast started shortly after 11:30pm local time. Some 150 children were on the campus when the fire began. At least forty-two of them were in the dormitory building which caught fire late Friday evening.
Initial reports indicated that three children were missing. Officials later confirmed the discovery of three bodies, but it’s still unclear if these are the bodies of the missing children.
“According to preliminary data, three children were killed,” Ruslan Forostyak, an adviser to the head of the National Police in the Odessa region, wrote on Facebook. Earlier reports said one child had died in the flames.
According to eyewitness reports, children were awoken by the smoke in the building. The teachers rushed to get the children to safety. However, despite a well-organized effort, some of them reportedly suffered smoke inhalation, injuries, and bruises. Several children were reportedly taken to hospital after they jumped from a window of the burning building.
The representative of Odessa’s Dispatch Service, Yevgeny Kavun, said the fire alert came in at 23:37 local time. Emergency teams were quickly dispatched to the scene where they found a three-story wooden building in flames. The fire spread rapidly, engulfing an area of roughly 1,000 square meters.
Putting out the fire proved to be difficult as there are no emergency water sources on the territory of the children’s sanatorium. There is a hydrant, but the pressure was weak and access to a fire reservoir was blocked, Kavun said. Firefighters found a water supply some 1,200 meters from the campus.
It took firefighters over two hours to quash the flames of the completely burned down structure that was also threatening nearby wooden cottages. Fire crews had to hose down the neighboring dorms due to the extreme heat. Eyewitnesses said the heat was so intense that the balconies of nearby buildings begun to melt while the glass shattered.
The Victoria camp comprises a number of buildings spread across 2.75 hectares on the Black Sea coast. The camp houses orphans and children who have been deprived of parental care, veterans’ children, as well as “talented and gifted children.” Victoria’s website boasts of its facilities, including retrofitted bedrooms as well as “newly built wooden buildings and a summer theater.”