SAINT PETERSBURG  - Three patients died in a fire that broke out in a hospital in the northwestern Russian city of Saint Petersburg, investigators said Saturday. The three patients died at the scene of the fire, which happened around 11 pm local time on Friday in the admissions ward of the Pokrovskaya hospital, the city’s Investigative Committee said. The city’s emergency ministry said that two of the dead, a man and a woman, had been patients in individual isolation wards in the hospital.

One other patient was hospitalised in a serious condition, investigators said. City police said they had detained a 43-year-old woman patient at the hospital alleging that “in a drunken state, she dropped a smouldering cigarette on mattresses piled up in a utility room.” The Investigative Committee, which handles serious crime, said that it had opened a criminal probe into causing death through negligence, which carries a maximum prison sentence of two years.