Irreparable and Devastating – the fire damage at the Yellow Palace

Brazil’s oldest and most important historical and scientific museum known as the Yellow Palace has been devastated by fire, with 90% of its archive of 20 million items is believed to have been destroyed.

The fire at Rio de Janeiro’s 200-year-old National Museum started after it was shut to the public on Sunday and raged into the night. There were no reports of injuries, but the loss to Brazilian science, history and culture was incalculable, one of its vice-directors said.

“It is an unbearable catastrophe. It is 200 years of this country’s heritage. It is 200 years of memory. It is 200 years of science. It is 200 years of culture, of education.” Said Luiz Darte.

There were strong rumours that some firefighters did not have enough water to battle the blaze. Rio’s fire chief Colonel said two hydrants at the museum were dry. “The two nearest hydrants had no supplies,” he said. Water trucks were brought in and water used from a nearby lake. “This is an old building,” he said, “with a lot of flammable material, lots of wood and the documents and the archive itself.”

Brazil has other troubles as it battles terrifying levels of violent crime and the effects of a recession that has left more than 12 million residents unemployed. People became concerned that the museum had fallen into disrepair and essential services were not maintained. Investigations into the cause and path of the fire at the Yellow Palace continue.

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