One person dead, 9 suffer eye injuries from fireworks

Police throughout Finland were kept busy on New Year’s Eve responding to calls. One woman in Helsinki died in an apartment fire and 9 people suffered eye injuries from fireworks.

More than 30,000 people came out to celebrate New Year's Eve in Helsinki. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

A woman died in an apartment fire in the Helsinki suburb of Myllypuro in the early hours of 2015.

According to Helsinki Fire Department's on-call Fire Chief Kimmo Tuominen, the cause of the early morning fire in a one-bedroom flat on Yläkiventie street is not yet known.

Emergency services received a call just after 3 am on New Year's Day. When the fire started, two people were reportedly inside the apartment: a woman and a man, who awoke to the smell of smoke. He escaped via the porch and alerted authorities, says Tuominen. When the Fire Department arrived on the scene, the woman was found lifeless. 

Although the apartment suffered serious damage, fire had not spread to the stairwell or other units in the building. As such, it was not necessary to evacuate other residents.

At least 9 people suffered eye injuries from New Year's Eve fireworks: 5 in Helsinki, 3 in Oulu, and 1 in Tampere. All 9 required medical attention; 4 were serious enough that they may hinder sight.

Senate Square celebrations

According to Helsinki Police Chief and Commissioner Tuomo Tuohimaa, New Year's Eve was extremely busy for the police, with 420 calls. A year ago on New Year's Eve the police received 444 calls and 2 years ago they received 353 calls.

The majority of calls were related to assault and battery, drunken and disorderly conduct, vandalism, and domestic disturbances.

Mild weather after the cold snap brought many revellers outdoors. The annual New Year's Eve celebration concert at Helsinki's Senate Square drew about 30,000 people, which is 5,000 more than the previous year.

Other parts of Finland

In other parts of the country New Year's Eve celebrations were mainly peaceful, according to police. Commissioner Vesa Pihajoki of Southwestern Finland's police division reported a steady number of calls.

“In Turku, the drunk tank was full and there were incidents of drunken and disorderly conduct, battery and assault, and fireworks-related accidents that took place because fireworks were used in the wrong places in inappropriate ways. But on the whole, no serious incidents were reported,” says Pihajoki.

In Northern Finland, New Year's Eve was also full of activity. “The busiest were Oulu and Rovaniemi, ” says Oulu Police Chief Commissioner Jyrki Kiviranta. (The Oulu police centre is also responsible for Lapland.) According to Kiviranta, street fights broke out and a few non-fatal stabbings were registered in Oulu.