Massive fire in Moscow’s oldest exhibition center - video

An enormous fire has destroyed the old Veterinary Pavilion on the premises of the All-Russian Exhibition Center (VVTs) in Moscow. People gathered to watch the conflagration while eight firefighting squads battled the fire.

The blaze spread across an area of up to 1,000 square meters, triggering the fire alarm. All workers present, around eight people, vacated the building safely. The roof of the structure has collapsed over a 400-square-meter area.

Eyewitnesses say a water shortage at the exhibition center prompted the firefighters to use water from the nearby fountains – one of the trademarks of VVTs. Water was also taken from a pond located on the premises via an 800-meter tube.

Two helicopters joined the fire squads to tackle the blaze, gathering water from the nearby Yauza to dump it on the fire-stricken building.

Witnesses say that they heard several blasts believed to be from gas cylinders exploding on the roof of the Veterinary Pavilion during the firefighting operation

Even though the fire was extinguished in a mere 50 minutes, the wooden structure, dating from 1939, burned to the ground. According to VVT officials, the building was used as a warehouse and had no architectural or historic value.

The VVTs is the new name for the Soviet-era VDNKh – the Exhibition of National Economic Achievements.  It was built in 1939 as the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition, a monumental tribute to the achievements of collectivization.  Nowadays the VVTs is part agricultural fair, part trade expo, part shopping center and part street market, with amusements to suit every age.