Left wing of Výstaviště's Industrial Palace devoured by flames
Prague witnessed its biggest fire since 1974 on Thursday evening when the art deco Industrial Palace at the 19th century Výstaviště Exhibition Grounds burst into flames. Firemen were still dampening the burning embers on Friday morning, and won’t be able to properly examine the wreckage of the building until Sunday. An investigation into what caused the fire is still ongoing, and all sorts of conspiracy theories are flying around.
Firemen won’t know for sure what started the blaze until Sunday, when the wreckage has cooled down. But a spokesman for the fire brigade told the media the most likely explanation was a fault in the electrical wiring. A previous theory - that an oxygen bottle used as part of a dental trade fair exploded – seems to have been discounted.
That hasn’t stopped conspiracy theorists from speculating that the fire was started deliberately as part of an ongoing vendetta between rival businessmen. The left wing was leased to a cleaning firm owned by Jan Kočka, brother of Václav Kočka jr, the businessman who was shot dead last week shortly after a book signing by Social Democrat chairman Jiří Paroubek.
“The Industrial Palace cannot be allowed to disappear from the heritage map of Prague, but naturally it’s too early to say at this point in time whether we are going to rebuild the left wing or not, or in what style. It’s too early for that.”
One thing is certain – rebuilding the left wing will cost a huge amount of money. Early estimates put the cost of renovation as high as one billion crowns, or more than 50 million dollars.