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Smoke rises from a fire at the bus warehouse barn behind the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville on Monday.
AP photo by Patricia Miklik Doyle
Smoke rises from a fire at the bus warehouse barn behind the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville on Monday.

Building, artifacts destroyed in fire at Rocket Center

HUNTSVILLE (AP) — Two artifacts at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center were destroyed Monday when a fire started in the building where they were being restored.

Spokesman Al Whitaker said the blaze began around 12:30 p.m. in the building where the center's fleet of tour buses is maintained.

Huntsville firefighters quickly contained the fire, which caused no injuries and did not require evacuation of the museum.

The artifacts were to be moved into a new building this summer that is being built to house the Saturn V rocket.

"We were getting the drop test module and the instrument ring prepared for display, just cleaning them up and making them look like they're supposed to," Whitaker said.

"It's certainly a loss. The
(instrument ring) that we lost was actually a part of this particular rocket, the Saturn V, and there's no getting that back," he said.

The fire is believed to have started when sparks from welding tools that workers were using ignited some of the maintenance building's insulation.

Officials made a wide perimeter around the building as a precaution because some of the chemicals that were stored there also caught fire.

Tanks containing oxygen and other flammable gases used for welding work weren't affected, Whitaker said.

"It could have been much worse," he said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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