Time in Yerevan: 11:07,   22 May 2024

Investigators release preliminary information on moments leadings up to deadly fire in barracks

Investigators release preliminary information on moments leadings up to deadly fire in 

YEREVAN, JANUARY 20, ARMENPRESS. The Investigative Committee of Armenia said the investigation into the deadly fire in the military base barracks of an engineering-sapper company revealed a number of circumstances.

The criminal investigation into the fire is instituted based on paragraph 4, Article 532 of the Criminal Code, which deals with violation of safety rules with hazardous materials which negligently caused multiple deaths.

“As part of the criminal proceedings, actions were taken to reveal the circumstances of the tragedy, the cause of the fire, the cause of death of the servicemen, the state of maintenance of fire safety rules in the barracks, the circle of officials responsible [for enforcing the rules] and to give a legal assessment to their actions and possible inaction,” the Investigative Committee said in a press release.

Detectives and experts examined the scene and several eyewitnesses have been questioned.

According to preliminary information, the engineering-sapper company of the military base was stationed in a building in the Azat village in Gegharkunik province since May 13, 2021.

The building had a hallway and two rooms, one of which served as the armory and the other as barracks, where the bunk beds were located. The heating was conducted with a wood-burning stove which was installed in the lobby.

On January 18, 2023, the military base’s engineering service officer, a captain, was appointed as the responsible officer of the engineering-sapper company and was on service in the abovementioned barracks.

At 18:00, January 18, the personnel of the company returned to the barracks after completing their assignments and went to bed starting 21:30.

Around 00:40, January 19, most the personnel were asleep in the barracks, while two conscripts (drivers) had gone to collect water from a spring. The serviceman on shift was in a nearby kitchen and was talking on a mobile phone. During that time, the captain in charge of the company, with the purpose of lighting the stove, inquired from the on-duty conscript about the presence of gasoline intended for refueling the ignition device of the equipment used in engineering works in the parking lot. He then tried to light the stove with gasoline from a plastic 5-liter canister. This fact has been substantiated by eyewitness accounts that there were 10 5-liter gasoline canisters in that area, whereas investigators found 9.

After pouring the gasoline inside the stove a blaze erupted, as a result of which the captain sustained burns and reflexively threw the canister to the side, which fell into the barracks. Then, the captain along with another conscript who was on-duty that day, and who had also suffered burns, managed to exit the barracks. Due to the rapid spread of the fire inside the whole area of the barracks the servicemen were unable to exit the building through the entrance, but the two conscripts who were outside managed to help two conscripts get out of the building.

One of the conscript servicemen-drivers who was outside used the Ural utility truck to ram into the wall of the barracks twice in an attempt to breach the wall and open a hole and bring out his co-servicemen, which resulted in some part of the wall breaking down. However, due to the rapid spread of fire they were unable to bring out the other servicemen inside the barracks, and as a result 15 conscripts died. Their bodies were recovered after the fire was extinguished.

Forensic medical examinations and other examinations are being conducted.

“The investigation continues, all measures will be taken during the proceedings to fully obtain answers to questions that are also of public interest. For this purpose, media reports related to the incident containing specific reports will also be subject to verification,” the committee said.





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