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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Theater Shuts Down After Blaze

MTA worker carting away debris from the Nemirovich-Danchenko theater on Thursday.
The Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater, sooty and flooded with water after a fire, said Thursday it was canceling all performances for the remainder of the season, including a long-awaited ballet premiere scheduled for next month.

The fire broke out in the 18th century's attic just minutes before a 7 p.m. ballet performance Wednesday. Some 1,000 people were evacuated from the theater as the fire spread over some 500 square meters of the building at 17 Bolshaya Dmitrovka. Twenty-five firetrucks helped extinguish the blaze.

No injuries were reported. Firefighters blamed the fire on a short circuit.

Theater officials were still calculating the damage caused by the fire Thursday. Some staff, who arrived at work to find the theater dark and flooded with water, described the damage as minimal. They said the fire appeared to have only raged through costume rooms, destroying dozens of outfits. No damage was visible on the outside of the three-story building.

Vladimir Sveltov, head of the theater's opera troupe, denied media reports that the fire was sparked by fireworks or other explosive materials being stored for next month's premiere of Pyotr Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker."

He said the fire occurred two months before the theater was scheduled to be closed for a two-year renovation. For the period of the renovation, the theater's opera and dance troupes had been scheduled to move to a recently constructed building next to the theater.

"Now we will have to do so several weeks earlier, and we'll also have to cancel all performances for the reminder of the season," Sveltov said.

He said the fire would not affect the troupes' plans for the next season, when it will be performing at other venues anyway because of the renovation.

The entrance to the theater, which is a few minutes' walk from the Mayor's Office on Tverskaya Ulitsa, was being heavily guarded Thursday afternoon ahead of an expected visit by Mayor Yury Luzhkov to examine the damage.

Meanwhile, a dozen disappointed theatergoers who had bought tickets for future performances were wandering around the theater, trying to get their money back.