The Accident Investigative Board in Finland has released more information about the investigation concerning the fire outbreak that led to the death of a Ghanaian mother and her three children in Vuosaari, Helsinki on December 9, 2016. The news were first published by Helsingin Sanomat, a local newspaper in Finland.
According to the investigation, the fire had spread from the sauna to the bathroom while the mother and children were most likely asleep. Saunas are a common facility in Finnish homes, consisting of a small room used as a steam bath for refreshing the body. Saunas are heated with specific sauna stoves, which are placed inside the room.
According to the investigation, cited by Helsinki Sanomat, the fire started from fabrics that were hanging on top of the sauna stove. The investigators believe that either the mother or one of the children might have turned on the sauna in their sixth floor apartment. However, as reported in the investigation, the father, Kwame Atta Owusu says the family only used the sauna when he was at home and neither the mother nor the children knew how to use the sauna.
There was no fire alarm in the apartment to alert the family about the smoke in the apartment as a result of the fire. However, when the Fire and Rescue Services arrived, the main door of the apartment was open but the inner door was closed, indicating that the mother had been awake at some point during the fire outbreak, the investigation report says.
According to Helsinki Sanomat, the investigators suspect that the mother may have come out to check the situation on the staircase, but returned to the apartment afterwards. The investigators believe that she may have tried to help the children out of the apartment, but at this point the inner door may not have opened due to overpressure caused by the fire. It is quite common in Finland that apartments have two doors, both inner and outer door.
The Investigative Board emphasizes that sauna fires occur in homes around Finland, regardless of whether the inhabitants are immigrants or native citizens. Additionally, the board says that saunas should never be used for drying clothes or storing inflammable material.
The incident has prompted the executives of Ghana Union Finland (GUF) to organize interactive workshops and seminars to educate Ghanaians living in Finland on matters relating to insurances, fire alarms and the use of sauna.
According to the Financial Secretary of GUF, Kwame Afreh, the union has made plans to invite resource persons from various institutions to talk to the Ghanaian community in the seminars. Afreh says that home and life insurances are good security measures in any event of unforeseen incident that is likely to cause injury and harm to lives. He mentions that there is also the need to sensitize people about the importance of regularly checking the batteries of their fire alarms and replace them if needed.
Source: GH Diaspora