Russian authorities say a fire that engulfed a 1950s-era nursing home south of Moscow has killed at least 30 people.

Authorities say more than 250 residents escaped the fire, which broke out Sunday afternoon in the two-story structure in the Tula region. Authorities said the fire burned quickly through the structure that did not have fire alarms.

A spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry said fire inspectors earlier had asked local courts to close the facility because of safety violations, including the lack of an alarm system. But he said a judge rejected the request.

Police have started a criminal investigation, as reports circulated today that more people could have been saved if firefighters had been called earlier.

The blaze is the latest in a series of fires at aging public facilities in Russia. Last year, a fire at a Moscow drug clinic killed 45 women, many of whom were trapped by metal bars on windows that staff could not open.

In March, a fire at a nursing home in southern Russia killed 62 residents and staff.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.