Nearly 350 firefighters and one helicopter were fighting on Monday the flames of a big blaze in Saint Petersburg, Russia, over several floors of the red-brick Nevskaya Manufaktura building on the Oktyabrskaya Embankment of the Neva River. 40 people had been evacuated, but one firefighter had died and two more were hospitalised with third-degree burns on up to 50% of their bodies. The deceased person was a firefighting unit commander. The fire has sent clouds of black smoke over the city. The building was in risk of collapse. The textile company was located at a cultural heritage site. The building dates back to 1841.
In recent years parts of the building continued to operate manufacturing cloth, while others were rented out as office space and some areas had been abandoned. The roof and ceilings collapsed on an area of 1,500 meters (4,921 feet). The building had quite serious violations of fire safety requirements, including the absence or malfunction of fire protection systems including automatic fire extinguishing, fire alarms and smoke exhausts. The cause of the fire is unknown, and an investigation has been launched. The emergencies ministry had conducted inspections into the building as recently as March 16. Fires are relatively common in Russia due to dilapidated infrastructure or non-compliance with safety standards.