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Skyscraper fire destroys gleaming tower in center of Grozny, Chechnya (VIDEO)

French actor Gerard Depardieu's apartment reportedly damaged by fire in Grozny, Chechnya.

Grozny city complex fire russia 04 03Enlarge
A new skyscraper complex, Grozny-City, dominates the skyline behind Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque, known as 'Heart of Chechnya,' in Grozny on April 14, 2012. The tallest tower in the complex caught fire on April 4, 2013. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Firefighters are battling a blaze today engulfing a 40-story tower in Grozny, Chechnya — the tallest Russian building outside Moscow and a gleaming centerpiece of the republic’s push to modernize.

The tower, said to be a mix of luxury apartments and five-star hotel, was unoccupied at the time of the blaze, the Associated Press said.

Emergency officials said there are no injuries although they evacuated an estimated 30 people, according to the AP.

The fire started between the fourth and fifth floors about 6 pm local time, Russia Today reported.

The website cited media reports that a short circuit caused the fire.

“According to preliminary information, the cause of the fire in the skyscraper was a short circuit. A more concise report will be done after experts examine the building,” a source told reporters, according to RT.com.

Flames eventually spread to all floors of the gleaming tower, bringing 300 firefighters to the Grozny-City complex, CNN said.

Authorities dispatched helicopters to aid crews having trouble fighting the fire from the ground, RT.com reported.

There are conflicting reports that French actor Gerard Depardieu’s apartment was damaged. Some news sites say his unit was burned while others say he owned an apartment in a neighboring building.

He received an apartment as a gift when he very publicly moved to Russia to avoid harsh taxes in France.

Chechnya battled Russia for independence in the 1990s, but now Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov is attempting to rebuild his capital, AFP said.

Much of the funding is coming from Moscow, according to AP.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/130403/skyscraper-fire-destroys-grozny-city-chechnya