First shopping mall fire victim named as alarms turned off before inferno began

The first victim of the huge Russian shopping centre blaze has been identified as the giant building's security guard.

Sergey Smurov was working inside the building overnight at the time of the giant fire.

And it has now emerged that the fire alarms were turned off shortly before the blaze due to ongoing construction work inside the building.

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Smurov has been named in local Russian media as the first victim – with searches taking place to see if there were any more.

It is being reported that one more man, called Dzhanik, was working in the building as a CCTV operator at the time, but his fate is unknown.

The fire started inside the OBI store at the Mega Khimki retail part in Moscow, and covered an area around 1,800m by 1,800m.

Development work was taking place inside the store, which is why any form of fire warning system had been turned off.

The building’s structural features and a large combustible load complicated efforts to extinguish the fire,” Russia ’s Emergency Situations Ministry said in a social media update a few hours after the blaze took hold.

It first claimed that the blaze reached 250 metres by 250 metres, but an emergency services source then said it had spread to take over the whole shopping centre.

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Eyewitnesses say they heard explosions, adding that first, the roof caught alight before the blaze spread through the building.

"The building’s roof has caught fire. [The total affected] area is 250 square metres. The blaze was classified as a category three fire [on a scale of five]," a spokesperson said.

Dramatic footage making the rounds online revealed the size of the flames.

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One clip appeared to show a blast erupting inside the shopping centre after media reports stated "paints and varnishes" were stored inside one of the businesses in the mall.

TASS reported that a flurry of black smoke was seen initially rising above an OBI store, a retail chain of home improvement supplies, in the shopping centre.

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