Seven die in nursing home fire in Sapporo
The Japan Times, 14 March 2010
SAPPORO (Kyodo) Seven residents of a nursing home for the elderly with dementia in Sapporo died in a fire early Saturday morning, police said.
Another resident, an 83-year-old woman, and a 24-year-old female employee were taken to a hospital. The worker is suffering from burns in her throat but is not in a life-threatening condition, while the resident is unhurt, they said.
The police are investigating the fire at the two-story wooden building as a possible case of negligence resulting in deaths.
Firefighters had issued an administrative order to the nursing home because the facility had not reported fire prevention plans or fire equipment examinations, as required by law.
The seven fatalities were four women and three men in their 60s to 90s. Five were found on the first floor and two on the second floor, police said, adding that it may have been difficult for the victims to evacuate the building on their own.
Local firefighters said they received an emergency call from the female worker at around 2:30 a.m. reporting a fire spreading in the building from a stove on the first floor.
Investigators suspect the blaze started when laundry hanging near the stove caught fire, as it was confirmed that laundry was routinely placed there to dry.
The fire burned most of the 250-sq.-meter floor space of the building, remodeled from a house, in a residential area about 7 km north of JR Sapporo Station.
The nursing home had nine residents but one of them was away at the time of the fire.
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