São Paulo, Brazil, Jul 29 (EFE).- Dozens of firefighters on Thursday were trying to extinguish a large fire that destroyed part of a storage warehouse of São Paulo’s Cinemateca Brasileira, the Brazilian film archive with the largest collection of moving images in Latin America.
A fleet of 15 fire trucks attended the blaze in the Vila Leopoldina neighborhood, in the west of São Paulo, and about 70 firefighters managed to control the fire, which began just after 6 pm local time (21:00 GMT).
The blaze is suspected to have started as technicians carried out air conditioning maintenance, and firefighter captain Karina Paula Moreira told journalists it was under control about two hours later, although it had not yet been extinguished.
She added the fire started in a historical film collection and archive section on the first floor of the building and spread through three rooms, although the ground floor was not affected.
Fire brigade spokesman Major Marcos Palumbo said the flames spread rapidly due to the highly flammable materials stored on the premises, such as film, photographs and documents.
The warehouse, not part of the headquarters of the Cinemateca in Vila Mariana, houses at least 2,000 copies of films and four tons of historical documentation, according to estimates from industry sources.
No one was injured, and the extent of the material damage is unknown for now.
The fire was lamented by political, cultural and civil sectors of Brazil, who criticized the tragedy that threatened the collection of about 250,000 rolls of film and 1 million documents.
The governor of São Paulo, Joao Doria, wrote on Twitter that the fire “is a crime against the country’s culture.”
“Contempt for the art and memory of Brazil leads to this: the gradual death of national culture,” he added.
A few days ago, the Prosecutor’s Office alerted the government to the risk of fire at the Cinemateca and, last year state prosecutors filed a lawsuit accusing the federal government of abandoning the institute and a lack of management. EFE