KEMEROVO, March 28. /TASS/. Fire alarm button in Kemerovo’s Zimnyaya Vishnya shopping mall went out of service several days before the March 25 fire, private security company guard Sergei Antyushin, whom investigators believe to have failed to turn on the fire alarm, told reporters at a court hearing over his arrest.
"I pressed the button but it was out of order," he said. "I made an entry on that in the journal that the technical director signs every day. We also report every malfunction to engineers… It was on March 19," Antyushin said.
He added that he had not left the building and had participated in the evacuation. "Initially, the fire alarm went off in the kids’ center on the fourth floor, it had previously gone off several times. But then I saw smoke on the fourth floor. Naturally, I immediately called 113 and also told the other guard that we were on fire," Antyushin said.
On Wednesday, a court hearing is underway over the arrest of five detained people, including Antyushin, Nadezhda Suddenok (the lessee of the site where the fire is believed to have started), Georgy Sobolev (the technical director of the shopping mall’s owner company), Alexander Nikitin and Igor Polozinenko (an employee and the head of the company that maintained the mall’s fire alarm).
A fire broke out on the top floor of the Zimnyaya Vishnya (or Winter Cherry), a four-story shopping mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo on March 25, eventually engulfing an area of 1,500 square meters. According to recent reports, the catastrophic inferno claimed the lives of 64 people, including 41 children.
According to President Vladimir Putin’s decree, Russia is observing a day of national mourning on March 28. Flags are flying at half mast, and all entertainment events have been cancelled across the region.