At least four warehouses, an escola de samba (samba club) and a Carnaval museum have been damaged in a blaze at Samba City in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The fire has broken out in Rio’s Carnaval district, destroying warehouses where floats and costumes are made and kept. 8,400 costumes were burned. Losses are estimated in 7 million reais (US$ 4.2 million).
There is no information on injuries due to the fire, which spread quickly because of the quantity of flammable materials. Rio’s Health secretariat confirmed that a man of about 30 years old was admitted to the Souza Aguiar hospital, in downtown, after inhaling smoke. He’s doing well, however. Firefighters spent this Monday morning battling the blaze and were able to contain it a little before 11 am.
Rio’s world-famous Carnaval, due to begin on March 4, attracts thousands of tourists and people from across Brazil and around the world.
Local television showed a large plume of black smoke above the purpose-built Sambódromo – where the parade takes place – located near the city’s port.
According to reports, the fire erupted well before employees were due at work. No victims have been reported so far. Some 90% of costumes in the damaged warehouses have been destroyed, according to O Globo.
The president of the samba group alliance – whose schools perform at the Carnaval event – described the loss as “tremendous.” But he vowed that the Carnaval would go ahead as planned, even though there would not be time to recreate everything lost in the fire.
“We are heartbroken,” Mr Castanheira said. “Everything was practically ready for the Carnaval”.
According to Castanheira some of the most famous samba groups such as Portela, União da Ilha and Grande Rio, have lost all their floats and costumes.
Every year twelve samba groups (some of them with up to 3.000 members) dispute the prestigious title of the best. Preparations and rehearsals last a full year and the coveted prize is an iconic symbol of pride for the neighborhoods.
Up to 700,000 international tourists attend the event each year, mainly from the US and Europe