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Rehab facility fire leaves 37 dead

September 14, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Fire roared through a drug treatment center in Kazakhstan with a history of safety violations, killing 37 people as patients tried to escape through barred windows, officials said.

The blaze broke out around 5:30 a.m. and quickly spread through the single-story Soviet-era building. About 40 people were evacuated, emergency officials said.

The cause of the fire, about 120 miles north of Almaty, the country's largest city, was not immediately known.

Locked doors on wards and bars on the windows blocked some potential escape routes, Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Bozhko said.

He said inspectors had found a number of violations in the 7,000-square-foot building in May and that the building had no alarm system.

Some of the violations had been fixed, but work on installing an alarm system hadn't begun, he said.

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