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Officials suspect arson behind Mikkeli school blaze

An investigation into Wednesday night's fire is underway, but by the next morning no one had been apprehended.

Tuppuralan koulu palaa Mikkelissä. Paloa on seuraamassa runsaasti yleisöä. Monet kuvaavat sammutustöitä.
Many curious onlookers gathered at Mikkeli's Tupparala primary school on Wednesday night. Image: Esa Huuhko / Yle

Officials in Mikkeli suspect that Wednesday's devastating fire at the Tuppurala primary school was a case of arson.

The blaze broke out Wednesday evening, and rescue services received a call about it at 7:23 pm. Fifteen rescue services units and several volunteer fire fighter units came to the scene, working late into the night.

The eastern Finland police department's chief investigator, Timo Häkkinen, said the fire was likely arson but no one has been apprehended yet.

"Police suspect the fire was deliberately set. When such a valuable piece of property is destroyed it is investigated as aggravated vandalism," Häkkinen said, adding that the investigation has already begun.

Story continues after photo.

Tuppuralan koulu palaa Mikkelissä.
Image: Esa Huuhko / Yle

No one was reported injured in the incident, as school is out of session for the summer, but many locals gathered to witness the fiery spectacle. At one point rescue officials were needed to prevent members of the public from getting too close to the burning building.

The task of extinguishing the blaze was particularly arduous for some fire fighters, as they had been battling a forest fire in the municipality of Pieksämäki, about an hour's drive north, earlier the same day.

The local fire department's Ville Tuovinen said Wednesday evening that the school gym was destroyed in the blaze but that the classrooms had been saved.

Yle journalist Susanna Pekkarinen was at the scene and reported that flames reached several metres in the air and that the roof collapsed at around 9 pm.

The primary school serves about 180 pupils and is located nearby Saimaa Lake, about two kilometres east of the centre of Mikkeli.

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