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    MANEGE FIRE: WAS IT SHORT CIRCUIT?

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    MOSCOW, MARCH 15 (RIA NOVOSTI) - Fire consumed the Manege, or Central Exposition Hall, in Moscow's heart last night. A short circuit caused the tragedy, to all appearances, say investigators, according to the city top prosecutor's press service.

    Two firemen died in the disaster, so proceedings have been launched on criminal negligence with fatal consequences. Proceedings are also underway on material damage caused through negligence.

    The conflagration started at about 9 p.m., to be qualified as Category Five, supreme. People in the building were not hurt. 250 firemen with more than a hundred fire engines were engaged on the site. Sergei Shoigu, federal Minister for Emergency and Calamity Relief, supervised the efforts.

    The building was reduced to ashes, and municipal authorities promise to rebuild it from scratch.

    A majestic classical edifice, the Manege was designed by architect Ossip Bove and engineer Augustin de Bethencourt. Construction finished in 1817 to mark the fifth anniversary of Russian victory in the Napoleonic War of 1812. Initially intended for military parades and exercises, it was site of concerts, expositions and fetes since 1831.

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