Moscow Tower Catches Fire in Business Hub, Workers Evacuated

A fire broke out on the top floors of an unfinished skyscraper in the Moscow City financial district, the second blaze to strike the Russian capital’s business hub in less than a year.

The fire started on the 22nd and 23rd floors of the high-rise, forcing an evacuation of construction workers, an official at the Emergency Ministry said by phone, declining to be identified in line with ministry policy. One worker felt intoxicated by smoke and sought medical help, state-run RIA Novosti reported.

Andrey Lukyanov, president of City, the management company that oversees the construction of the business district, said a fan heater probably caused the fire, RIA said. The blaze, which broke out over an area of 60 square meters, was extinguished at 12:35 p.m., with about 220 workers evacuated, according to the Emergency Ministry’s Moscow branch. The Oko tower belongs to real estate developer Capital Group, controlled by Vladislav Doronin, partner of supermodel Naomi Campbell.

The emerging business district, located west of central Moscow, is part of a government initiative to turn the capital into an international financial center. Mercury City, a tower being built in the area by Russian billionaire Igor Kesaev, overtook the Shard in London as Europe’s tallest skyscraper last November. Two fire-fighting helicopters were deployed last April to help extinguish a fire on the 66th and 67th floors of the nearby Federation Tower skyscraper.

VTB, RenCap

The Moscow City development is home to the headquarters of Russia’s second-biggest lender VTB Group and Renaissance Capital, the investment bank controlled by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. The area also houses the local offices of International Business Machines Corp., KPMG LLP, General Electric Co., EON SE, Citigroup Inc. and Alcoa Inc.

“I don’t see smoke anymore -- there was a lot of smoke earlier,” Dmitry Klimov, an eyewitness who works at VTB Capital in a tower overlooking the skyscraper on fire, said by phone from Moscow. “The fire seems to have been extinguished. I see many cars next to the tower.”

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