Oddly Enough

Drunk worker reportedly starts fire in Moscow museum

A woman looks at paintings in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow May 26, 2006. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A drunk electrician started a fire at a world-famous Moscow art museum after he fell asleep while smoking a cigarette, a police source told RIA news agency Sunday.

The blaze at Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery started in an engineering building next to the main gallery Saturday and damaged technical equipment but not any of the museum’s valuable art works.

A police source told RIA that a 49-year-old workman had caused the fire, but a spokeswoman for the Moscow museum said it was too early to say what started the blaze.

“According to preliminary reports, the man fell asleep with a lit cigarette when he was drunk,” RIA quoted the source as saying.

“He is now in a hospital intensive care unit and it is not yet possible to take a testimony on the accident.”

The gallery houses some of the best-known Russian art, from 9th century Orthodox icons to 19th century impressionism and portraits of famous Russian writers.

One of its most famous paintings, by the 19th century painter Ilya Repin, depicts a tortured Ivan the Terrible after he killed his son in a violent rage.

Writing by James Kilner; Editing by Sophie Hares