Fire throws Rio Carnival preparation into chaos
By Stuart Grudgings Stuart Grudgings – Mon Feb 7, 11:36 am ET
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – A large fire swept through Rio de Janeiro's Carnival center on Monday, destroying thousands of costumes and floats and throwing preparations for Brazil's annual festival of hedonism into chaos.
Television images showed thick plumes of smoke rising over central Rio early in the morning from a blackened section of the City of Samba complex, where the city's best Carnival groups spend months preparing their spectacular annual parades.
At least three of the 12 top samba groups, or "schools," were hit badly by the fire, media said, just weeks before their scheduled parades through Rio's Sambadrome for Carnival, which gets under way on March 4.
Workers were shown entering the complex trying to salvage some of the elaborate floats as 80 firefighters battled the blaze, which had been brought under control by mid-morning. It was unclear how the fire started.
A tearful Helinho de Oliveira, the president of the Grande Rio samba school, said the fire destroyed more than 3,000 costumes that his group had spent months making.
"The only thing that didn't burn was our desire to parade," he told Globo television.