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Fire spread

An electrical fault is thought to have started the blaze at Ostankino Tower, breaking out in the service area at 375m - above the rotating Sedmoyo Nebo, or Seventh Heaven, restaurant - as a result of 'huge overloading' on the 1967 structure's cabling.

Roger Johns, electrical engineer at Ove Arup's Moscow office, believes that cables in the tower could have become overloaded as a result of the progressive addition of telecommunications equipment over the years.

'This overload should have tripped the fuse breaker and led to a power shutdown, but either the breaker wasn't correctly sized, or wasn't working, ' he said.

Johns believes the power overload would have created a heat source, leading to the cables' PVC insulation catching light.

He said the fire could also have been caused by poor maintenance of the cable insulation, allowing a short circuit to take place - when current passes between exposed neutral and live wires.

He continued: 'Once the fire had started, pieces of burning insulation may have fallen down the tower and stuck to further cables, creating more fires.'

Strong air currents provided by the chimney effect of the tower would also have fed the flames.

However, fire experts believe the blaze really took hold in the restaurant, where the flammable interior would have helped feed the fire - possibly creating enough heat to affect the lift systems.

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