On Monday morning a fire broke out at the publishing house at 24 Pravda Street where the leading Russian newspapers’ offices are situated, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Parlamentskaya Gazeta, Rodnaya Gazeta, Soviet Russia, Tribuna and Antenna.
The fire completely destroyed the 5th floor where the editing office of Komsomolskaya Pravda is situated. Witnesses said that the dining hall and canteen are now ablaze. The flames have swept through the 6th, 7th and 8th floors of the building.
Interfax reports that over the burning 5th floor a huge crack can be seen in the wall of the building. There is a danger that the building might collapse. A spokesman for the President’s administration informed that the roof of the building at the Press complex has already begun to cave in. The building was erected in 1932 and is an architectural masterpiece.
Several hundred workers were evacuated from the editing building but tens of people on the higher floors were trapped by the fire and naked ladies stood on balconies. Some eye-witnesses insisted that the firemen's ladders escapes did not reach the people. However, by midday everyone gas been evacuated from the building.
Two people had to go to hospital. One woman suffered from smoke inhalation and the other person from heart problems. Itar-Tass reported Irina Andrianova, head of the Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Response, as saying that one woman, director of the dining hall had been taken to Skifosovsky Research Institute and the second lady to 50th town hospital.
Itar-Tass informs that the alarm was raised at 10.30am Moscow time. Eye-witnesses say that workers tried to deal with the fire themselves but all the fire-extinguishers located on the floor turned out to be faulty.
Tens of fire engines responded to the incident. However, the evacuation was complicated by the fact that parked cars blocked all the entrances to the building.
At 11.30am a fireman managed to save about ten people. “People on the 7th floor of the building managed to save themselves by using fire escapes,” a spokesman for Itar-Tass remarked. Doctors are now looking after those rescued.
A few dozen people still remained out of the firemen’s reach. On the balcony of the 5th floor, where the editing office of Konsomolskaya Pravda is situated, about ten women stood asking for help. Within an hour they had also been evacuated from the building. On the 7th floor there were a few advertising departments. At the end of each corridor in the building there was a fire exit. However, it is possible to enter some of the floors only by means of a special magnetic card. In the event that the system does not work, people could be trapped.
Reasons for the fire at Komsomolskaya Pravda
According to a correspondent at Newsru.com, the fire broke out in the graphics department of Komsomolskaya Pravda on the 5th floor. Other reports say that the fire stated on the 6th floor where the dining hall and press-centre are situated. The fire then quickly spread through the building across the wooden floors. Thick smoke poured from the windows on different floors.
The press secretary for the President’s administration, Victor Khrekov, announced that “according to the first version of events, the fire started in the archives of Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.
Initial indications show that the reason for the outbreak of the fire may be a brief electrical fault at the offices of Komsomolskya Pravda.
A spokesman for Itar-Tass said, “After this the fire spread to the higher floors and as a result the exit from the dining hall on the 6th floor was blocked.”
Translated by Michael Simpson