Investigation Underway, four days after a fire killed fourteen people in Erbil province’s Soran area, authorities in Iraq’s Kurdistan region have yet to determine what sparked the incident.
Authorities in Iraq’s Kurdistan region are still probing the origins of a fire that broke out late Friday, 8 August, at a residential structure in Erbil province’s Soran area, killing fourteen people and injuring seven others.
Investigation Underway for Deadly Fire That Killed 14 in Iraqi Kurdistan
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has formed an investigating committee to look into the cause of the incident. So far, five people have been arrested, including the building’s owner, though the results of the investigations have yet to be released. The proprietor of a sofa factory in the facility, as well as three staff, were also arrested.
The New Arab reached out to Halgurd Sheikh Najib, the supervisor of the Soran administration, but he was unavailable for comment. Much of the infrastructure in war-torn Iraq is in disrepair, and catastrophes are regular.
In addition, the country suffers from lax enforcement of safety regulations, particularly in the transportation and construction industries.
In September, a fire broke out at a wedding in Hamdaniyah, better known as Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in Nineveh province, killing over 100 people and injuring 100 more.
In November 2022, a petrol tank exploded, causing a building to fall, killing fifteen people and injuring a dozen more. In April 2021, more than 80 people were killed in a Baghdad hospital fire caused by incorrectly kept oxygen cylinders.
People inside the building “were screaming for help.” They were not going to leave the building. “They were calling for help from the windows,” he explained.
According to the health directorate, all 14 victims perished as a result of smoke inhalation. The administration of Soran declared three days of mourning.
The following on the night of the fire, Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani directed that an investigation committee be formed by the interior ministry.
That committee will look into every aspect, and any flaws will be made public, said Halgurd Sheikh Najib, the supervisor of the Soran administration, in a press conference on Saturday, committing to follow any suggestions that come out of the probe.
Rajab Zuber, the mayor of Soran, told Rudaw on Sunday that the committee will visit the scene of the fire, speak with witnesses, and then deliver a final report to the interior ministry and the town’s administration. Already, five people have been arrested.
“Five people have been detained by the order of a judge and they are being interrogated,” Zuber said in a statement. The five are the owner and employees of a sofa manufacturing located in the building, as well as the building’s owner.
Initial reports suggested that the fire was started by a power outage, although this has not been confirmed.
“At first, it was thought to be due to an electrical short circuit, but now various explanations have emerged.” Perhaps the cause was not an electrical short circuit, but rather coal used to smoke shisha. But how that happened and who was at fault are unknown,” Zuber said.
Najib, the supervisor of Soran, feels that one of the contributing factors to the deaths of 14 individuals was a lack of knowledge of fundamental safety standards. “One of the reasons is the people’s lack of awareness of how to evacuate the building in such cases,” he went on to say.
Several Nations, One Tragic Fate
The fire killed four ladies and ten males. Two of the fatalities were from Soran, and the remaining casualties came from Syria, Iran, and southern Iraq.
Sana Samih, 24, worked as a Kurdish language instructor. She and her spouse of a year and a half, Mustafa Ismail, were expecting their first child. He was pursuing a master’s degree in Arabic language at Soran University’s College of Linguistics.
“I was at home,” I explained. Sana called and said the building was on fire and that you should come [to save us]. I couldn’t go upstairs when we went because the fire was too strong. They phoned twice. “They also called me when I was in front of the building,” Mustafa’s father, Ismail Sadiq, recalled after his son and daughter-in-law’s funeral.
For at least half an hour, Sadiq said he could see indications of life through their apartment windows.”They were flashing their lights, but later, even the lights stopped,” he told me.
Ali Wiryan, a Kurd from western Iran (Rojhelat), and Renas Sultan, from northeast Syria, were hosting Omran Muradi and Bahram Muradi, both from Iran, at another flat. They were all killed in the fire.
According to their cousin, Shahram Muradi, the bodies of Bahram and Omran Muradi were repatriated to their family in Iran via the Haji Omaran border crossing.
“The bodies of both of them are set to return to East Kurdistan [west Iran] today through Haji Omaran and they will be buried in Urmia province,” the official stated.
Wiryan and Sultan were laid to rest in a Soran cemetery on Saturday. Fires are a constant worry in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, where safety standards are deplorable.
According to the Kurdistan Region Police Directorate, there were 7,546 fire incidents documented in the Region in 2022. Part of the problem is faulty electricity and a lack of fundamental safety measures.
Anger lingers in Hamdaniya after a terrible fire at a wedding hall in September killed more than 130 people. In 2021, two hospital fires in Nasiriyah and Baghdad killed around 200 people.