Smoke was seen coming out of the chimney of the Russian consulate in San Francisco on Friday, one day after the US ordered the building shut down in the latest round of a spiraling diplomatic crisis.
Firefighters who were sent to the building were turned absent by consular officials, the Associate Press reported.
“It was not unintentional. They were burning something in their fireplace,” Mindy Talamadge, a spokeswoman from the San Francisco Fire Department, told the AP.
The State Department on Thursday ordered Russia to shutter the consulate in San Francisco, as well as annex buildings in unique York and Washington, DC, by Saturday, after Russia ordered the US embassy in Moscow to cut hundreds of staff. That creep came in response to a US expulsion of dozens of diplomats by the Obama administration as punishment for Russian meddling in the US election.
Russia has promised further retaliation.
The Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told BuzzFeed News that “measures are being taken in it to preserve the building.”
“We were given two days,” she said in a message. “There’s a whole complex of procedures being carried out to preserve the premises.”
Zakharova said in a statement earlier Friday condemning the US order that the US planned to carry out a search of the building on Saturday.
A State Department official declined to comment approximately the billowing plumes of smoke, saying “I’d just refer you to the Russians.” Often times the State Department uses paper shredders to destroy documents, but it also uses burn bags.
John Hudson contributed reporting.
Miriam Elder is the world editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in unique York. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 5B5F EC17 C20B C11F 226D 3EBE 6205 F92F AC14 DCB1
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