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Finland is on fire…

August 2, 2008
…literally! Finland is an advanced and hi-tech country, there is no doubt about that, but there are a few things things that puzzle me very much about Finlandthe number of large fires that destroy big buildings and complexes, the number of workplace accidents and deaths and the number of people that die in preventable accidents such as drowning.
I would assume in country like Finland that these things wouldn’t happen very much, but they do and these incidents grab the headlines with frightening regularity. This time around I will focus on fires, which break out far too often IMHO.
The headlines just in the last week:
  • Construction Resumes after Fire at Nuclear Reactor Site (Olkiluoto 3 in Eurajoki – this project has been plagued with problems since the beginning.)
  • Major Fire at Hardboard Plant in Pori (more than EUR 1 million in damage)

Headlines over the last few months…

  • Fire in Nuuksio National Park in northern Espoo burns about 10 hectares
  • Fire at Museum of Technology causes less damage than first feared (in Helsinki)
  • Fire near Riihimäki railway station causes train delays (This was a large fire that broke out on a construction site.)
  • Identity of some victims of Espoo house fire still unclear: Five dead in blaze at substance abuse shelter (There were 10 people in the house when the blaze broke out. I theorize that someone fell asleep while smoking and that is how the fire started.)
  • Arson suspected in weekend church fires: Mormon Church destroyed in Tampere, Lappeenranta church slightly damaged

Some other high profile fires over the last years:

  • The old magasinit that were demolished in Helsinki to make way for the new Music Hall in 2006. While many people continue to believe the fire was set on purpose, the cause was in fact a smouldering cigarette and was confirmed by fire investigation officials.
  • The medieval Porvoo Cathedral was severely damaged by a fire in May 2006. Fortunately the gabled roof spared the church from total destruction. I heard from a neighbour that the church was open to the public again after several months of reconstruction. The main perpetator of the arson was dealt a sentence of several years for an "act of destruction."
  • The new airport terminal in Kittilä (Lapland) was heavily damaged by fire in July 2006, with construction nearing completion when the fire happened.
  • In the summer of 2006, smoke from forest fires in Russian poured over the border and decimated the air quality in southern Finland for several days in a row. While I have been here for almost 10 years, I have never seen anything like that before. (I wrote a blog entry about it, see it here:!6822918775CA7A47!435.entry)
Finally, this country is ripe for a massive forest fire, as it has been years since anything significant has happened in Finnish forests. Finnish forest resources are tightly regulated by Metsähallitus and by the lumber companies. I am sure if a fire were to break out, it would be quickly contained… Unfortunately nature would not be allowed to take its course…
Just remember – fire is not always our friend! Wilted rose

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