Video: Flames engulf Portuguese Language Museum in Sao Paulo
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One of Latin America's most-visited landmarks went up in flames on Monday, killing a firefighter who died during the three-hour-long fight to quell the blaze.
Large flames ripped through the Museu da Língua Portuguesa (Portuguese Language Museum) in Sao Paulo and reached the third floor of the building, which was constructed in 1901 in the style of a British railway station. It became the Portuguese Language Museum in 2006 and is one of the most visited attractions in Latin America.
More than 60 fire engines and over 100 firefighters rushed to save the building. After three hours of intensive firefighting, the blaze was brought under control. Sao Paulo’s governor, Geraldo Alckmin, told reporters that one firefighter who had been badly burned while battling the flames had died at a hospital.
"The Portuguese Language Museum is really significant in Brazil and to the city of Sao Paulo as well as internationally, " Alckmin said. "We can say with absolutely conviction that the firefighters expressed love and solidarity with the people of Sao Paolo and of Brazil for the museum, because the it translates the soul of the Brazilian people."
Rather than housing ancient artifacts, the museum features interactive multimedia exhibits that trace the history and evolution of the Portuguese language from colonial times to the present day.
The museum’s curators say that most of the exhibits have been backed up elsewhere, so the cultural loss is minimal, despite extensive damage to the 100-year-old building, which is a monument in itself.
The governor has vowed that it will be rebuilt, and is appealing for private funds to help with the costs.