Incidents » Disasters, catastrophes
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Immense fire burns largest souvenir and arts fair in Moscow

It became the largest fire in Moscow since the blaze in the very center of Moscow in 2004 

Monstrous fire destroyed a big part of the renowned Vernisazh Izmailovo arts fair in Moscow. The violent blaze scorched 10,000 square meters of the outdoor market; flames of fire were up to 15 meters high. One woman was killed in the roaring fire; another woman was hospitalized with serious traumas. Investigators believe that the complex of wooden buildings, which comprise the market, was set on fire deliberately. There is no reasonable version, however, to explain, who could derive profit from burning down the Moscow arts fair.

Eyewitnesses say that that the fire started in the cafe on the third storey of the central building of the market. The strong wind spread the fire on other constructions nearby very quickly. It took mere minutes for the fire to embrace the left wing of the fair, where traditional Russian souvenirs were sold.

Specialists originally gave the third category to the fire on the 0-5 scale. However, when the burning area exceeded the square of 1,000 square meters, it was classified as the fire of maximum category. Forty-five firefighting brigades were extinguishing the fire for four hours. The blaze was localized with the help of the helicopter, which showered the burning wooden buildings with tons of water.

Two women suffered as a result of the fire: A 44-year-old employee of the market's restaurant died of smoke poisoning, whereas a 28-year-old waitress was hospitalized with spine trauma after she had jumped out of the window in a panic attempt to save her life.

Fire experts ruled out arson the same day. Moscow official Nikolai Evtikheyev set out a similar supposition too: “One could hear the sound of a slight explosion in the tower of one of the buildings. The fire started spreading very quickly after that. It looks like it was arson, although experts will need to investigate it further on, of course,” the official said.

The official pointed out that the fair complex had a special historical significance for Moscow. Nikolai Evtikheyev added that the fire damage would most likely be evaluated at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Arson, however, is not the only version in the investigation. “The weather has been rather damp these days. A short circuit in the wooden buildings of the arts fair could also be possible,” one of the rescuers said.