SAINT PETERSBURG: A spectacular fire gutted a historic factory in Russia’s second city Saint Petersburg on Monday, sending clouds of black smoke over the former imperial capital.
The emergencies ministry said 40 people had been evacuated, but that one firefighter had died and two more were hospitalised trying to put out the massive blaze visible across the city.
The ministry said that the fire had broken out over several floors of the red-brick Nevskaya Manufaktura building on the Oktyabrskaya Embankment of the Neva River.
The enormous factory was engulfed in flames which spread to nearby trees, AFP journalists at the scene said, adding that the building was surrounded by fire trucks and several ambulances.
The inferno spread to an area of about 10,000 square metres and a large part of the roof had collapsed.
Nearly 350 firefighters were still fighting the flames at 4.30pm, three hours after the blaze sparked.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
Listed by the Saint Petersburg city government as a cultural heritage site, the building was home to one of Russia’s largest textile companies in the second half of the 19th century, the Fontanka local news website reported.
It said the company, the Thornton Woollen Mill Company, was founded by British citizen James George Thornton and his sons, and that its products won the highest award at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900.
The factory was nationalised and run as a state entity during the Soviet period, then privatised in 1992.
Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2021