Moscow Tower Fire Kills 2 Assessing Damage to Structure Begins

The Florida Times Union, August 29, 2000 | Go to article overview

Moscow Tower Fire Kills 2 Assessing Damage to Structure Begins


MOSCOW -- Firefighters extinguished a blaze that engulfed Moscow's landmark television tower yesterday after battling smoke and flames hundreds of feet above ground for 26 hours. At least two people trapped in an elevator were killed.

The fire left the 1,771-foot Ostankino tower a spectacular hulk, much of its interior scorched and webs of wiring melted. Concerns rose that the protracted fire's intense heat may have warped structural elements that could cause parts of the tower to fall or put them beyond repair.

Firefighters faced a backbreaking ordeal in fighting the blaze, hauling heavy gear up dozens of flights of stairs. Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo said the fire was put out at about 5:40 p.m.

The bodies of a high-ranking firefighter and an elevator operator were found in an elevator shaft, said Viktor Beltsov, a spokesman for the Moscow Emergency Situations Ministry. They had been trapped in an elevator high up in the tower early on in the fire, and Russian media reported that their elevator and five others had plunged to the ground during the blaze. Media had earlier reported at least one other person trapped in the same car, but there was no confirmation of more dead.

The blaze knocked out most television service in the sprawling Russian capital, leaving residents longing for news and entertainment and dispirited over the latest in a string of disasters that have underscored the country's deteriorating infrastructure.

"There was no safety system -- as usual," said retired engineer Vladimir Ilin, gazing up at the tower. …

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