Smoke pours from Russia's oldest consulate in San Francisco after Donald Trump orders its closure
Acrid, black smoke was seen pouring from a chimney at the Russia's consulate in San Francisco on Friday
San Francisco: Acrid, black smoke was seen pouring from a chimney at the Russian consulate in San Francisco on Friday , a day after the Trump administration ordered its closure amid escalating tensions between the United States and Russia.
Firefighters who arrived at the scene were turned away by consulate officials who came from inside the building. An Associated Press reporter heard people who came from inside the building tell firefighters that there was no problem and that consulate staff were burning unidentified items in a fireplace.
Mindy Talamadge, a spokeswoman from the San Francisco Fire Department, said the department received a call about the smoke and sent a crew to investigate but determined the smoke was coming from the chimney.
"They had a fire going in their fireplace," she said. Talmadge said she did not know what they were burning on a day when normally cool San Francisco temperatures had already climbed to 95 degrees by noon. "It was not unintentional. They were burning something in their fireplace," she said.
The consulate's workers are hurrying to shut Russia's oldest consulate in the US ahead of Saturday deadline. The order for Russia to vacate the consulate and an official diplomatic residence in San Francisco home to a longstanding community of Russian emigres and technology workers escalated an already tense diplomatic standoff between Washington and Moscow.
On Saturday morning, a handful of people with business at the embassy were allowed into the building. A day earlier, Russian citizens said they were able to pick up and renew their passports if they had pre-existing appointments. Consular officials did not comment as they got into cars with diplomatic plates.
Those without appointments were already being turned away.
Yuri Alexandrovski, a US-Russian dual citizen who works in the tech industry, said he had hoped to renew his passport to go to the World Cup next year in Russia, but was not allowed because he did not have an appointment. "It seemed like I was asking questions they didn't have answers for," said Alexandrovski. "I'm assuming I will have to fly to Seattle to get that done."
The State Department also ordered Russia to close trade missions housed in satellite offices in Washington and New York.
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There were electronic tickets with timed entry, and temperatures were taken upon entry. Each person had to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of having completed vaccination at least 14 days earlier.