Fire engulfs major shopping mall outside Moscow (VIDEOS)
A massive fire has erupted at a large shopping center on the outskirts of the Russian capital, with local officials saying the blaze broke out at a construction retailer and risks spreading to other departments and consuming the entire complex.
Emergency workers responded to reports of a blaze at the Mega Khimki mall, located in Moscow region just outside the nation’s capital, shortly after 6am on Friday morning, according to the regional office of the Russian Emergencies Ministry.
By 7:30am the fire had grown to an area of around 7,000 square meters. At least 30 first responders were helping to fight the conflagration with nine pieces of equipment, the ministry said, adding that the fire was rated as a four out of five in terms of intensity. As the flames spread, emergency workers announced plans to use a firefighting aircraft to help extinguish the blaze.
Initial reports did not mention casualties, although local media suggested people were inside the building when the fire started. Eyewitnesses said employees were evacuated from the complex immediately, however. Rescuers later confirmed that at least one person, a security guard, was found dead at the scene.
Dramatic footage making the rounds online revealed the scale of the inferno, with multiple clips showing at least one blast erupting inside the shopping center, as some media reports noted that large quantities of “paints, varnishes” and other flammables were stored inside the burning section of the mall.
Denis Andreev, a Khimki city prosecutor, has reportedly arrived at the scene to observe, while the prosecutor’s office for the broader Moscow Region said it would launch a probe into the incident and its cause. It is unclear how the fire started, but officials confirmed it first erupted within OBI, a formerly German-owned home improvement retailer sold to new Russian operators earlier this year.