Asylum seekers were evacuated as firefighters extinguished the blaze, the second at a reception centre in the Tampere area this week. This follows a string of fires at current or planned centres in recent months.
Eighty men were evacuated from an asylum seekers’ reception centre in Tampere due to a fire early Thursday. The blaze began shortly after midnight in the stairwell of the Rautaharkko centre.
No-one was injured, says fire chief Jari Hiltunen of the Pirkanmaa Rescue Centre.
“However the situation was threatening in that the residential areas filled with smoke during the night. It could have been worse, but fortunately most of the residents were still awake and all 80 people got outdoors safely,” Hiltunen told Yle.
A guard at the centre alerted the rescue centre at 12:45 am. The fire was extinguished and the facility aired out before residents were let back in for the rest of the night.
String of suspicious fires
Police suspect that the fire was set intentionally and are initially investigating it as a case of vandalism. No-one had been detained as of Thursday morning.
The centre, located in an industrial zone just south of the city centre, opened in late November.
On Monday night there was a fire outside the Kaivanto refugee reception centre in Kangasala, some 20 km away. However police say there is no evidence that that blaze was intentionally started.
In early December, there were fires in buildings that were to be used as a reception centres in Kankaanpää and Rauma. In October the Lammi asylum reception centre, south of Tampere, was targeted by arsonists.
Meanwhile the Immigration Service says that 112 new asylum seekers arrived in Finland on Wednesday, bringing the total for this year to just over 31,500.