SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU/AP) - A day after the Trump administration ordered its closure amid escalating tensions between the United States and Russia, thick black smoke was seen coming from the chimney of the Russian consulate building in San Francisco.
Firefighters who arrived at the building on Green Street were not allowed to enter the building Friday. The fire department tweeted that the building was not on fire, only that a fire alarm had gone off.
Mindy Talamadge, a spokeswoman from the San Francisco Fire Department, said the department received a call about the smoke and sent a crew to investigate but determined the smoke was coming from the chimney.
“They had a fire going in their fireplace,” she said.
Talmadge said she did not know what they were burning on a day when normally cool San Francisco temperatures had already climbed to 95 degrees by noon.
“It was not unintentional. They were burning something in their fireplace,” she said.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District sent an inspector to the consulate and said on Twitter that if they document an excessive smoke violation, they will be cited.
Passersby wondered what all the smoke was all about and rumors started swirling about why there would be smoke coming from the chimney in relation to the news that the building would have to close on Saturday, as per the White House order.
People were especially curious since the National Weather Service had asked the public not to burn anything or use too much electricity during Friday's excessive heat warning.
An Associated Press reporter heard people who came from inside the building tell firefighters that there was no problem and that consulate staff were burning unidentified items in a fireplace.
Late Thursday, the Consulate General of Russia in San Francisco posted on Facebook that the decision to close its doors was "an unfriendly step of US authorities."
We believe that the decision to close the Consulate General of Russian Federation in San Francisco is another unfriendly step of the US authorities, which, first of all, will hit hard on Russian citizens residing in the consular district, as well as on American citizens. A significant part of Russians also have American citizenship.
We would like to emphasize that in 2016 the Consulate General issued more than 16 thousand tourist visas for American citizens. Closure of the Consulate General will create certain difficulties in the preparation of documents for this category of Americans. Also, there is a question of time frame, that the US authorities gave for the closure of the Consulate General – only two days.
MEDIA! The Russian embassy had a fire alarm NOT A FIRE everything is okay and we are clearing Thank you pic.twitter.com/q3O9Knfa65— San Francisco Fire (@sffdpio) September 1, 2017