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The fire broke out in the warehouse of the national film institute in Brazil

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A Brazilian government warehouse that stores antique films, documents and projectors from the Brazils film industry has caught fire in Sao Paulo

BRAZIL, Brazil – A government warehouse storing antique films, documents and projectors from the Brazilian film industry caught fire Thursday night in Sao Paulo.

The fire department said 15 fire trucks and 50 firefighters were on site trying to prevent the blaze from spreading to a larger area of ​​the building.

The warehouse is owned by the national film institute, Cinemateca, and houses South America’s largest collection of films, some made of cellulose nitrate, a highly flammable material. The films in the depot were copies for exhibition, not originals, and the extent of the loss was not immediately apparent.

Last year, a flood in the same warehouse damaged part of the collection. In 2016, the Cinemateca headquarters in another area of ​​the city also suffered a fire.

Public prosecutors warned in a lawsuit filed last year that there was a risk of fire at Cinemateca warehouse, accusing the federal government of neglecting to maintain the building. The lawsuit also said there were delays in paying the bills and salaries of the institute services.

In April, Cinemateca employees wrote an open letter declaring the institution abandoned and demanding that it be reopened after being closed for eight months.

Eduardo Morettin, professor of audiovisual history at the University of Sao Paulo, was watching firefighters working outside the building. “What we see here is part of the absolute disregard for everything that has to do with the memory of our country,” he said.

Through his social network, Sao Paulo state governor Joo Doria, an opponent of President Jair Bolsonaro, called the fire a crime against the country’s culture.

The Special Secretariat of Culture in Brazil said in an email statement that it deeply regrets “the fire and asked the Federal Police to investigate.

Without directly referring to criticism of support for Cinemateca, the agency said the federal government is committed “to preserving its history. The entire space air conditioning system underwent maintenance about a month ago as part of its efforts. federal governments to maintain the collection of institutions – she said.

Two other beloved Brazilian cultural institutions have suffered similar fate in recent years.

The National Museum in Rio de Janeiro had destroyed most of its structure by fire in 2018 along with more than 20 million of its items. Scheduled is scheduled to reopen next year. In 2015, the Portuguese Language Museum, also in Sao Paulo, caught fire. Its reopening is scheduled for Sunday.

Associated Press journalist Tatiana Polastri in Sao Paulo contributed to this report.

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