The bell tower of Moscow’s historic Novodevichy convent, a Unesco world heritage site and the burial place of many prominent figures, has been threatened by a fire that broke out on Sunday night. Flames from construction scaffolding around the bell tower, which has been under renovation, rose high above the Moscow skyline as firefighters struggled to protect one of the city’s most beloved landmarks.
Law enforcement sources told Russian news agencies that the fire had started in the scaffolding about 30 metres above the ground, and moved up to the top of the tower, which is more than 70 metres high. According to the Moscow branch of the emergency situations ministry, the fire started at 10.41pm local time.
Firefighters were containing the blaze and “there is no danger of the fire spreading”, Alexander Gavrilov, first deputy director of the Moscow branch of the emergency situations ministry, told journalists at the scene shortly after midnight. No one was injured and the interior of the bell tower was not damaged, he said.
State news agency RIA Novosti later reported that the fire had been almost completely extinguished.
Gavrilov declined to comment on the fire’s possible causes. But the city’s cultural heritage department told news agency Interfax that the renovation work on the tower was being conducted in violation of safety regulations, which likely caused the fire. The department had previously noted violations but could not dismiss the construction contractor because the convent is under federal control. (Read more from “Moscow: Fire Breaks out at Novodevichy Convent” HERE)