The fire broke out on Saturday morning in a warehouse of the online store Wildberry in southeastern St. Petersburg. Wildberry is the largest online retailer in Russia. The fire spread quickly and burned an area of 7 hectares. The fire brigade is still investigating the cause of the fire and has not responded to reports of possible arson.
Russian news site RBK reported that a major brawl broke out at the warehouse on Wednesday evening. An Azerbaijani Wildberry employee was taken to hospital with stab wounds.
More stories about the warehouse are circulating on Russian news channels on Telegram. For example, authorities are said to have carried out two raids on the building in recent days to verify employee documents. The staff includes many migrant workers from Central Asia and the Caucasus. One of the employees told the “Shot” channel on the “Telegram” application that a water pipe exploded yesterday in one of the warehouse rooms.
There is also uncertainty about the operation of the fire alarm in the warehouse. Russian news agency TASS reported that the alarm was disabled due to a series of false alarms. Other media outlets wrote that the alarm did go off, but that staff initially ignored it because they thought it was just a drill. Only when the fire began to spread did the 1,800 employees leave the building.
According to TASS news agency, there were no casualties in the fire. Unconfirmed reports of a missing person. A group of employees say that after the evacuation they did not find a colleague outside who was in the smoking area when the fire broke out. Other workers say their personal belongings were left in the burning building, including their passports in some cases.
Wildberry is still investigating the number of merchandise lost in the fire. Russian media estimate that the value may reach 10 billion rubles (equivalent to more than 100 million euros).
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