GROZNY, April 4 (RIA Novosti) – The fire that broke out in the tallest skyscraper of Chechnya’s capital Grozny on Wednesday evening was put out early on Thursday, a spokesman for the republic’s emergencies service told RIA Novosti.
“At 1:30 Moscow time [9:30 p.m. GMT] the fire was extinguished completely,” he said.
According to the emergencies service, the blaze has damaged an area of more than 14,000 square meters. It has completely destroyed the plastic trimming used on the building’s exterior, but the interior remained untouched.
At about 6 p.m. on Wednesday, clouds of black smoke engulfed the tallest building of the Grozny City complex, a 40-story apartment building, which boasts the world’s largest round clock. The record-breaking clock remained intact and kept showing correct time for two hours but stopped at 8:30 p.m. local time [4:30 p.m. GMT].
According to preliminary information, the blaze was caused by a short circuit. The fire has quickly spread to all floors of the skyscraper except the ground one.
More than 100 firefighters and 16 fire engines were battling the blaze. However, the upper floors of the building, the tallest in Russia outside Moscow, could be reached only from a helicopter.
The North Caucasus Regional Center of the Russian Emergencies Ministry, based in the resort city of Zheleznovodsk in South Russia’s Stavropol Territory, ruled out the possibility of using its helicopters in firefighting efforts at night.
The center’s deputy chief Alexander Barsuk said that a helicopter can operate there only in daylight, because the buildings were standing too close to each other and it was too dangerous for a chopper to fly there in poor visibility.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s website said that firefighting helicopters will soon be bought for the Grozny City complex.
No one was killed or injured in the fire, but dozens of people were evacuated from the 145-meter (475-foot) skyscraper and nearby buildings.