Part of Výstaviště Industrial Palace destroyed by fire
A large part of Prague’s historic Výstaviště Industrial Palace was destroyed by a major fire on Thursday evening. The fire broke out in the Art Nouveau building around 7 pm. Fire officers have refused to speculate about the cause, but arson has not been ruled out. The blaze destroyed part of the building rented by the son of Social Democrat supporter Václav Kočka, whose other son was shot dead last week. The Kočka family, which holds the concession to run a fun-fair at Výstaviště, has in the past been accused of having links to organised crime.
Prague’s mayor, Pavel Bém, said he would push for the complete renovation of the building. So far, damages have been estimated at between 800 million and 1 billion crowns, the equivalent of around 50 million US dollars. On Friday afternoon, the firm leasing the Výstaviště site, including the industrial palace, announced it had been insured for 2.5 billion crowns. The impressive steel-and-glass Výstaviště Industrial Palace officially opened in March 1891. In recent years the Art Nouveau palace and its grounds have again fulfilled their original purpose as a venue for exhibitions and trade-fairs, as well as cultural events.