With evicted Russian diplomats scrambling to collect their baggage and vacate the San Francisco consulate in hours ahead of the September 2 deadline, the AP reports that "acrid, black smoke" was seen pouring from a chimney at the Russian consulate on Friday.
However, instead of sabotage, it appears the Russians were engaged in some last minute creative document "redaction."
Firefighters who arrived at the scene were turned away by consulate officials who emerged from inside the building. An Associated Press reporter heard people who came from inside the building tell firefighters that there was no problem and that consulate staff were burning "unidentified items in a fireplace."
Mindy Talamadge, a spokeswoman from the San Francisco Fire Department, said the department received a call about the smoke and sent a crew to investigate but determined the smoke was coming from the chimney.
“They had a fire going in their fireplace,” she said. Since it is about 100 degrees in San Francisco today, the fire was hardly stoked for heating purposes.
Talmadge said she did not know what they were burning on a day when normally cool San Francisco temperatures had already climbed to 95 degrees by noon. "It was not unintentional. They were burning something in their fireplace,” she said.
As reported yesterday, the consulate’s workers are rushing to shut Russia’s oldest consulate in the U.S. Thursday's order for Russia to vacate the consulate and an official diplomatic residence in San Francisco — home to a longstanding community of Russian emigres and technology workers — escalated an already tense diplomatic standoff between Washington and Moscow. The deadline for the consulate to close is Saturday.
It remains to be determined if the NYT or the WaPo will report some time around 7pm on Friday, citing unnamed NSA/CIA/Deep State sources, that among the items burned were Donald Trump's official KGB recruiting papers, videotapes of the president enjoying golden showers from Russian hookers and, of course, a first lien on the US granted to Vladimir Putin.