Prague, July 15 (CTK) – Electrical wiring ignited burning in the technical room of the Museum Kampa in Prague, flames have not reached it, but fumes got inside the exhibition rooms, Jana Postova, the spokeswoman for the emergency service, told journalists on Wednesday.
However, the original information that the paintings had to be taken out was not confirmed. Four firefighting units were on the scene.
The paramedics treated one man in the place, Postova said.
The chairman of the Jan Mladek and Meda Mladkova Foundation, Jiri Pospisil, told Czech Television this was no minor affair, but the fire was in a different room than that in which the collections and artifacts were stored or exhibited.
The museum founder Mladkova, now 100, lives in a different part of the museum that was not threatened by the fire. She is fine, Pospisil said.
“There is a fire in the technical room with the switchboard. The flames are not spreading, but unfortunately, the fumes have infiltrated the exhibition rooms,” firefighters spokesman Martin Kavka said.
“We are trying to get the fumes out by ventilation,” he added. “Upon consulting the museum experts, the paintings did not have to be moved out. We managed to air the space rapidly. The fire is fully extinguished,” Kavka said at around 16:15.
Pospisil confirmed that the artifacts did not have to be taken out of the museum.
The building must now be thoroughly aired. The police remain on the scene, too. “They are protecting the exhibits as everything is open now,” police spokeswoman Lucie Drabkova said.
Over 100 people had to leave for a safe area and the sluice on the nearby Vltava River had to be closed, the police have tweeted.
The treated man’s condition is not serious and it was not necessary to hospitalize him, Postova said.
“No more injured have been reported. We are in the scene, monitoring the situation,” she added. Pospisil, who is abroad, said he only had general information on the situation in the museum.
“The air-conditioning parts and technological background of the museum caught fire. If this is kept under the control, the historical part of the museum with collections and artifacts will not be hit,” Pospisil said.
He said there was welding work in the museum and from its flames, the paneling in the room caught fire.
Pospisil confirmed that there had been two pressure vessels in the burning house.
He said the accident had revealed the danger of the state of affairs in which the depository with all the works of art which were not currently on display was in the same house. Pospisil said he had long discussed the construction of the depository in a safe place with Prague authorities.
The damage in the electrical wiring and air-conditioning is estimated at tens of million crowns.
The museum posted on its Facebook page that it was closed for the day due to technical reasons.
The Museum Kampa administers a collection of abstract painting pioneer Frantisek Kupka (1871-1957). Along with Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, and Fernand Leger, Kupka is considered a founder of abstract painting. It is currently exhibiting formerly unseen works by Alfons Mucha.