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Dec 13, 2014

05:17:41 GMT--Fire - North-America - USA

EDIS Number: FR-20141213-46313-USA

Date / time: 13/12/2014 05:15:06 [UTC]

Event: Fire

Area: North-America

Country: USA

State/County: State of New York

Location: New York City [American Museum of Natural History, Central Park W & 79th St]

Number of Deads: N/A

Number of Injured: N/A

Number of Infected: N/A

Number of Missing: N/A

Number of Affected: N/A

Number of Evacuated: 4000 person(s)

Damage level: Moderate


A fire at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan forced up to 4,000 people out into the cold Friday afternoon, officials with the Fire Department of New York said. An air-conditioning filter ignited shortly before 3:30 p.m. as workers were using torches on the building's exterior between the first and second floors, said a spokesman for the FDNY. As many as 60 firefighters responded and brought the situation under control by 4:45 p.m., fire officials said. There were no reports of injuries, fire officials said. David Garcia and his family, visiting from San Juan, Puerto Rico, were in the first-floor gift shop when museum officials calmly asked everyone to exit the building. "They were really great about it," Mr. Garcia said. The heating, ventilating and air-conditioning system sucked in smoke from the fire, spewing it back out into the Hall of Northwest Coast Indians exhibit and activating the sprinkler system, officials said. Water from the sprinklers caused some damage in the hall, though the extent of the damage was unclear, said Roberto Lebron, a museum spokesman. Most of the exhibits in the hall are enclosed in glass cases, he said. The museum is scheduled to reopen Saturday, Mr. Lebron said. The first floor houses some of the museum's most famed displays, including lifelike dioramas in the Bernard Family Hall of North American Mammals and a 94-foot-long model of a blue whale suspended from the ceiling of the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life. Some portions of the first floor were recently renovated, including the Grand Gallery, where a 63-foot-long Great Canoe carved in the 1870s from a single cedar tree hangs from the ceiling, and the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall. The latter reopened in 2012 and features murals depicting milestones of his life across more than 5,200 square feet of wall space.

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