A major fire has caused extensive damage to Riga Castle, the medieval fortress that houses the National History Museum of Latvia. Firefighters reportyedly were hampered by their old Soviet-era equipment.
Viktorija Sembele, a spokeswoman for the State Fire and Rescue Service, said Friday that the overnight fire damaged the roof and the second and third floors of the castle, The Associated Press reported.
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Sembele said some significant items in the museum suffered water damage but none was destroyed.
The castle is normally the residence of the Baltic state’s president, Andris Berzins, but he is currently not residing there since the building is under reconstruction.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Sembele said one firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation.
Latvian media reported that the national museum had escaped unscathed but claimed the art museum had sustained damage, according to Britain's The Telegraph
. Latvia's culture ministry called an emergency meeting to find a new home for the exhibits of the two museums housed in the building.
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The Telegraph also reported that the country's media criticized the equipment of the city's fire brigade, noting that during the battle with the blaze, hydrants failed to provide enough water, and half of the fire engines were old Soviet-era machines lacking the equipment to tackle a fire of that size.
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