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Historic Balikli nursing home & hospital for Greeks in Istanbul on fire (vids)

Fragile elderly and vulnerable patients were evacuated partly being carried on the arms of personnel when the fire at the historic Balikli nursing home for Greeks and general hospital broke out in Istanbul early afternoon on Thursday.

All 104 patients have been successfully evacuated amid thick smoke, nobody was injured. They have been transferred to other hospitals on the city.

The fire broke out in the wooden roof of the building and destroyed it completely.

Firefighters were rushed on the spot, however, the statics of the building would not allowed water dropped from helicopters or aircraft, authorities said.

The fire was largely contained early Thursday evening.

According to CNN Turk, the fire may have started by an electric short circuit.

Valukli or Balikli Hospital was originally built in 1753 and was sponsored by the Union of Greek Grocers. The immediate objective of the hospital was to help cure epidemics and common diseases specifically affecting the ethnic Greek population of Constantinople. After several fires and destruction during the times passed, the hospital was restored in 1991.

In 1994, the first private clinic for the treatment of alcohol and substance abuse in Turkey was established.

In late 1960, the Turkish treasure seized the properties of the Balıklı Greek Hospital. The hospital sued the treasury on the ground that the transfer of its property was illegal, but the Turkish courts were in favor of the Turkish treasure.

In August 2002, a new law was passed by the Turkish parliament to protect the minorities rights, because of Turkey’s EU candidacy. With this new law, it prevented the Turkish treasury from seizing community foundations properties.

Today, Balikli operates a nursing home for elderly of the ethnic Greeks of Istanbul and a general hospital for all citizens.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew thanked authorities and volunteers for helping to put out a fire on Thursday, expressing relief that there were no victims.

“Our Greek community received a great blow today,” the Ecumenical Patriarch said, “one of its greatest philanthropic institutions that treated with loving care our older brothers and sisters was heavily damaged by a catastrophic fire. We thank the Lord we did not mourn any victims, and we thank state and local government authorities, as well as firefighters, nursing home and the nearby hospital staff, and all volunteers, for helping save the residents and for fighting to put the fire out. Human lives are important; buildings, facilities, material things can be restored.”

The regional director said the Turkish state would restore the Balikli hospital.

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