This friday will be remembered as a really sad day in the history of Helsinki. VR Makasiinit – old railway warehouses between the parliament and railway station – were on fire.
VR Makasiinit have become a centre for alternative culture events in the last decade. I have been there once (to see Solar Stones) and this place really had a nice dark atmosphere.
After a long debate the city of Helsinki has decided to destroy the warehouses and build a new music hall in that place. Many people in Helsinki were against that decision. A few hundred young people were protesting in VR Makasiinit last weekend and there was a small riot between them and the police. The city planned to begin the demolition tomorrow, May 8th.
On friday evening I went to took some photos in Viikki, a nice wetland area near the university. A few minutes before 20 I noticed a smoke cloud rising from the city centre. When I was back in the university I checked the Yle website to see, if there are any news about the fire. It was VR Makasiinit…
When I arrived to the city centre there were already thousands of people watching the fire. The whole southern warehouse was in flames – there was no way to save it… Many people were taking photos, Helsingin Sanomat predicts that it was one of the most photographed events in Finland. The fire lasted for hours…
I do not agree with violence, but maybe this arson was the last possibility to draw attention to the way city planning goes in Helsinki. I think that it was very wrong decision to demolish buildings from 19th century. This place ment a lot for many people… Fortunately nobody was hurt in the fire.
Some photos are in my gallery.
Update: Helsingin Sanomat has posted a webcam video that shows everything from the beginning to the end (1 frame per minute).