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article imageFire rips through Moscow Art Center, officials fear worst

By Kim I. Hartman     Jul 16, 2010 in World
Moscow - Russian art experts fear dozens of works of art including religious icons may have been damaged or destroyed in a fire at an art center in Moscow but officials say it could take days to properly assess the damage caused by Thursday and Friday's blaze.
The fire broke out at the Grabar All-Russian Art, Scientific and Restoration Center early Thursday evening, reports RIA Novosti. Emergency workers say new outbreaks of the fire are still possible from cinders and embers that still burn brightly within the building.
It took twenty fire teams and three helicopters to battle the blaze that may have claimed more then 400 art treasures that were gathered and being housed from museums across Russia for individual restoration of both single pieces and groups of irreplacable works.
The cause of the fire is still unknown but many suspect the restoration specialists who are working at the facility or the welding crew who are working in the interior of the center may have caused what officials say is an accidental blaze. The restoration specialist's will have their hands full with irreplaceable works of art now damaged or destroyed by the fire, water and smoke damage.
The art center was established in 1918 by Igor Grabar, a scientist and fine-art expert, who headed it until 1930. The center has mainly focused on ancient Russian art, 18th century Russian art and scientific examinations of paintings and graphic works.
Grabar center specialists have been involved in the restoration of many art treasures, including Andrei Rublyov's The Old Testament Trinity icon and frescoes in the Moscow Kremlin and several ancient Russian churches reported Ria Novosti.
Read more on this museum art center's fire at RIA Novosti, where you can stay abreast of developments and discoveries of works of art saved or destroyed by this catastrophe.
Fire officials report at least two deaths of firemen who were on the scene fighting the blaze, injuries have not yet been tallied.
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