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Russian consulate staff in San Francisco apparently burned something to keep it out of U.S. hands

Employees of the Russian consulate in San Francisco used a fireplace to burn unknown items Friday, causing the building to emit black smoke from its chimney.

When local firefighters showed up to investigate, presuming an emergency because the temperature outside was in the 90s, consulate staff turned them away and explained the smoke came from intentional fireplace use. The fire happened while consulate staff emptied the building in response to a White House order to vacate by Saturday in connection to rising tensions between Moscow and Washington.

U.S. agents are expected to search the facility Saturday and have already "search[ed] apartments in San Francisco used by Russian diplomats and their families," Politico reports, quoting Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.