Russian skyscraper catches fire, no injuries

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Huge flames danced for hours on the top floors of an under-construction Moscow skyscraper that is to be Europe's tallest, lighting up the night sky Monday. No injuries were reported in the blaze.

The fire at the eastern part of the Federation Tower complex was visible from much of the Russian capital's western half. Two firefighting helicopters noisily circled the blaze, dumping huge buckets of water on the flames before the Emergencies Ministry said the fire had been stopped from spreading by about 11:30 p.m. (1930 GMT), some three hours after it broke out.

The fire, some 250 meters (880 feet) above street-level, was believed to have started when plastic sheeting came in contact with a spotlight illuminating a work area, Nikita Zhuravlev, a representative of project developer Potok8 said. He said a firefighting helicopter appeared to have spread the flames by flying too low over the fire.

The Federation Tower is part of a massive development on the banks of the Moscow River about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) west of the Kremlin.

When completed, it is to consist of two glass-sheathed office towers flanking a mast reaching 560 meters.

The tower that caught on fire is to top out at 360 meters (1,150 feet tall).

That would make it Europe's tallest building, exceeding the current record-holder, the 302-meter (990-foot) City of Capitals building in the same development as the Federation Tower, and yet another building in the complex, the Mercury City Tower, which is to reach 332 meters (1089 feet).

Russian news reports said the fire engulfed some 300 square meters (3200 square feet) at its height. It hit multiple floors, reportedly the 65th to 67th.

Firefighters were forced to climb stairs to reach the blaze because elevators are not yet in service, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

In August 2000, Moscow's 540-meter (1,771-foot) Ostankino broadcasting tower, once the world's tallest freestanding structure, caught fire and burned for 26 hours.

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