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Russian consulate in SF burns unknown items ahead of building search

When the San Francisco Fire Department arrived at the scene, consulate staff said they were using the fireplace on the 95-degree day.
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

San Francisco fire fighters hurried to the Russian consulate yesterday when they spotted black smoke emerging from the chimney. However, when they arrived, consulate staff said they were just using the fireplace on a 95-degree day, which also happened to be just one day ahead of the consulate’s closing deadline. According to an Associated Press reporter, those within the building said employees were burning unidentified items.

"It was not unintentional. They were burning something in their fireplace," said San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge to the San Francisco Chronicle.

It remains unclear what the consulate was trying to get rid of, but theories have inevitably continued to swirl. Some believe staff may have been trashing documents in advance of a building search that was reportedly set to occur Saturday by U.S. security personnel, according to Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry.

President Trump’s administration demanded on Thursday that Russia shut down its consulate in a phone call between Secretary of State Tillerson and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The order has been called a tit-for-tat response to Russia’s effort to push out U.S. diplomatic staff from the country.