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The big fire of June 11th 1938 had caused a lot of damage to the city.

The fire was described in an issue of Firefighter magazine, published on July 1st 1938: “On June 11th 1938, just after 11 a.m., policeman Varpinsh, working at the police station near the market, had glanced out of the window an saw that the smoke is rising from Raida Bunimovich’s house on 29 Kr. Barona Street. He hurried there to help. Nearby, there was also Aizsargi regiment Lieutenant-Captain Frishmanis, who served as the head of the local fire station. He declared the fire alarm and reported it to the head of Ludza district, A. Karklinsh.
The church rang the belles, announcing the fire. Policeman Varpinsh by that time had reached Bunimovich’s house attic where the fire had already caught on some small items.

Neither the owner of the house, nor her neighbours knew about the danger. Bunimovich and her neighbour Sverdlova were calmly talking in a living room when Varpinsh burst in and told them to get to safety. 8 minutes later, Ludza fire fighters arrived and immediately began to extinguish the fire. In that moment, the house’s dry wooden roof flared up. The wind picked the burning chips high up in the air and threw at the nearby houses. A few minutes later, the fire has spread everywhere. To help the fire fighters, soldiers arrived from the local garrison, as well as ordinary Ludza citizens. The firefighters were doing everything they could, but the flames could not be stopped.
The heat and the wind created a powerful tornado that picked up sparks and even large pieces of wood. While the fire was extinguished on Kr. Barona Street, a message came that the wind had thrown sparks over the Othodox church and the Market square and now houses were burning 500 meters away. A bit later, the sparks flew over the Odu hill and the fire spread to the streets by the Big Ludza lake. Seeing that the fire can destroy the whole town, people asked the nearby cities for help. But it was too late. Water from hoses couldn’t even reach the burning houses, evaporating in the air. The impossible heat forced the firefighters to retreat. Some of them gathered on the Vienibas square, pouring water on the People’s House to protect it. Around it, the roofs were stripped down and also soaked in water. People made chains from the lakes to the houses, handing down buckets with water. Others stood on the roofs, watching over the potentially endangered areas. In a short period, all the wells were dried out, so the water was brought by the soldiers from the lakes on carts.
Soon, firefighter teams came from Rezekne, Gulbene, Abrene, Vilaki, Daugavpils, and Lubani. Later, on a special train, 5 firefighters teams from Riga arrived. Overall, the fire was fought by more than 1000 people – ordinary townspeople, firefighters, soldiers, policemen and border guards. The fire has spread wide in less than two hours, burning were not only wooden but also brick houses. The first brick house to collapse was a two-story building where the local police station and Aizsargi headquarters were located. All the documents were carried out and hid in the nearby Orthodox church. Soon after, the saved belongings and a firefighter’s cart standing right in the middle of the Market square had caught on fire because of the sheer heat. Right after that, the fire reached another building, where sometime, Catherine the Great had stopped for a night. The Orthodox church was surrounded by the fire and soon, its tower flared up. The church was saved by Daugavpils firefighters, although a large gilded cross fell down. The Catholic church was also covered in flames and collapsed in mere minutes. Across the streets, telephone poles have fallen, obstructing the movement. Because of that, there was no electricity and no phone connection in a large part of the city. Belatedly, but in a critical moment, Riga firefighters arrived. By that time, the city centre and many of the streets were burnt out, but in that moment, the wind changed direction and the flames turned to the other part of the town. Riga firefighters used their powerful machinery, extinguishing still-smouldering house ruins and protecting the rest of the town.
Right after the fire has started, Ludza hospital, led by its head A. Sarms, has organized a first aid station on Vienibas square. All the Ludza doctors, nurses, and paramedics were there to provide medical help. On Saturday, the first aid station had helped 200 people. A lot more, though, have suffered, only turned to the local pharmacies for help or tended to their wounds at home. Firefighters, policemen, and soldiers who were extinguishing the fire, all shown themselves selfless and disciplined. Four policemen were ordered to do some task on one of the flame-covered streets and soon saw their own houses burning down but they remained on their place and completed their task. Ludza firefighters were just as dutiful, tearing up as their houses burned but never quitting their job. Soldiers were fearless as well, saving the panickin citizens, going inside the house and then exiting them by jumping from the second-floor windows.” [1]

Ugunsdzēsējs. – 1938.gada 1.jūnijs.