Fire strikes Slovak Academy of Sciences

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Patrónka district of Bratislava, where the SAS Virology Institute is located

The Virology Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS) in Bratislava was severely damaged by fire. The flames reportedly reached as high as one hundred meters. The fire most likely started from the gas tank used for oxy-fuel welding during the building's restoration process, SAS speaker Viera Rosová said.

Firefighters from all Bratislava fire-stations took part in the fire-fighting operation. The situation was complicated by dense smoke, necessitating the use of gas masks.

Thanks to a quick evacuation of SAS employees and construction workers, none were injured. However, some equipment of the top-level scientific facility was damaged and various research projects will be affected as well, Rosová admitted. The "software unit containing information of incalculable value" was rescued in time, reports say.

There is no danger of toxic spills or leak of viruses. The micro-biotic organisms studied in the institute are safely stored and infected animals were not held in this building. The institute owns about two thousand animals. The virology samples will be destroyed as the coolers went out of service after the power supply was cut for security reasons during fire-fighting. The SAS vice-chairman Albert Beier estimated the value of the cooler boxes to be close to two million Euros. "They often contain a life-long work of our researchers," he added.