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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City's Chief Firefighter Laid to Rest After Blaze

APCadets of the State Firefighting Academy, including one holding a portrait of the chief of the Moscow firefighting service, Col. Yevgeny Chernyshev, lining up during a civil funeral ceremony in Moscow on Wednesday, March 24

Moscow's chief firefighter was laid to rest Wednesday after pulling five people out of a burning office building on his day off work but dying when the roof collapsed.

About 3,000 mourners paid tribute to Yevgeny Chernyshev, 47, including senior Emergency Situations Ministry officials, relatives and people whom he had rescued from fires over the years, RIA-Novosti reported.

"All of Moscow is grieving," Viktor Klimkin, deputy head of the ministry's Moscow branch, said at the funeral, RIA-Novosti reported.

President Dmitry Medvedev has praised Chernyshev as a "reliable friend," while officials have proposed naming a Moscow street and a new fire engine in his honor.

Chernyshev died late Saturday when a roof collapsed on him in the burning office center at 38A-26 2nd Khutorskaya Ulitsa outside the Dmitrovskaya metro station in northern Moscow.

Chernyshev earlier evacuated five people from the building, the Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement.

Another firefighter rescued a sixth person from the blaze, RIA-Novosti reported.

No one else was killed or injured in the fire, which destroyed an area of 1,800 square meters.

Chernyshev was working even though Saturday was his day off, Deputy Mayor Vladimir Resin said in an interview published Wednesday in the Moskovskaya Perspektiva newspaper.

Fire safety standards are poorly enforced in Russia, and catastrophic blazes have broken out in nightclubs, nursing homes and drug-treatment centers in recent years. Up to 18,000 fire deaths occur every year, several times higher than the per-capita rate in the West.

The corridors at the site of Saturday's fire were made of flammable materials in violation of fire safety rules, RIA-Novosti reported.

The Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case into Saturday's blaze on charges of fire safety violations, which carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison if someone is identified as responsible for the fire, RIA-Novosti reported. No suspects have been identified yet.

Meanwhile, the prefect of Moscow's Northern Administrative District, Oleg Mitvol, has sent a letter to Mayor Yury Luzhkov proposing that Beskudnikovsky Bulvar, where Chernyshev lived, or 2nd Khutorskaya Ulitsa be renamed after him, Mitvol's office said in a statement.

A new model of a firetruck will be named after Chernyshev, said Alexander Cheremakhin, head of the fire truck's producer, Pozharniye Sistemy, RIA-Novosti reported. The truck was tested at a training ground in the Tver region on Tuesday, Cheremakhin said.

Condolences, meanwhile, have been pouring in to Chernyshev's widow and teenage son.

In addition to calling Chernyshev a friend, Medvedev described him as a "true professional" who "enjoyed undisputable authority among his colleagues," according to a telegram of condolences sent by the president to Chernyshev's family and published on the Kremlin's web site.

Medvedev granted Chernyshev a Hero of Russia award Wednesday, the Kremlin's web site said.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill said Chernyshev could not have died a more noble death.

"The death showed that he followed Christ's commandment, 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,'" the patriarch said in a statement posted on his office's web site.

Wednesday's funeral started at 8 a.m. in the Danilov Monastery, which is directly subordinate to the patriarch.

Chernyshev was buried at Mitinskoye Cemetery in northwestern Moscow.

Chernyshev saved dozens of people from more than 250 major fires since he was appointed Moscow's chief firefighter in 2002, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.