Two killed in fire at Moscow icon restoration centre

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Two firefighters lost their lives Thursday battling a blaze that swept through a renowned icon restoration centre in Moscow, an emergency ministry spokesman said.

"They were extinguishing the fire and were killed when the roof partially collapsed," a spokesman for the Moscow emergency ministry said.

The fire spread over more than 1,500 square metres of a three-story building on Radio Street in eastern Moscow, which houses the Grabar Art Restoration Centre, before being localised by firefighters, the spokesman said.

Black smoke billowed into the sky as three helicopters scooped water from a nearby pond and dropped it on the blaze, with flames shooting through windows on the top floor of the building, television footage showed.

It was unclear how many works of art were damaged. Firefighters managed to rescue some of the artworks, a Moscow emergency ministry official, Igor Kurnaykov, told the Interfax news agency.

The Grabar Art Restoration Centre was founded in 1918 and specialises in the restoration of icons and 18th century Russian art. Its restorers worked on frescoes in the Moscow Kremlin and Andrei Rublyov's "Trinity" icon.

© 2010 AFP

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