Blaze at US drone plant in Latvia; arson not suspected

Feb 8, 2023, 6:03 AM | Updated: 11:40 am

HELSINKI (AP) — Firefighters worked for a second day Wednesday to fully extinguish a blaze at a U.S. company’s drone plant in Latvia, as police said no indications of sabotage have been found so far.

Latvia’s State Fire and Rescue Service was alerted Tuesday afternoon that a fire had broken out at Edge Autonomy’s drone production plant in Marupe, a town that borders the capital, Riga.

The Baltic News Service said that although the blaze was largely contained by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, firefighters continued work to fully extinguish the fire Wednesday.

“It is difficult to judge any possible reasons” for the blaze, fire and rescue service spokesman Kristaps Kolbergs told Latvian Radio. “Maybe it is the technological process, or some failure in the technological process.”

Edge Autonomy, based in San Luis Obispo, California, is a maker of unmanned system technologies and equipment including drones for civilian and military purposes. The U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps are among its clients.

The company’s Latvian drone production plant was established in 2009. Among other countries, Edge Autonomy’s facility in Marupe has delivered drones to Ukraine. In October, a U.S. Congressional delegation visited the facility.

BNS said the two-story drone production building with a floor space of 600 square meters (6,500 square feet) and objects next to the building caught fire. It said two people were hospitalized while one person received medical assistance on the spot.

Riga’s main airport is close to the plant and Latvia’s public broadcaster LSM said the airport sent its own fire brigade to assist in putting out the blaze, which spread smoke into nearby areas. Flight operations at Riga airport weren’t affected.

Police told local news outlets that initial information didn’t point toward arson but that a full investigation has been launched to find out precisely what happened.

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Blaze at US drone plant in Latvia; arson not suspected