A temporary observation center is located next to the former Hokkaido government office building in Sapporo at 12: 46 a.m. on October 3. Haruto Hiraoka SAPPORO - A fire damaged part of a temporary observation center that is next to the former Hokkaido government office building, a landmark beloved by locals for its attractive design.
The fire started at about 12: 30 a.m. on October 3 at the observation center, which is a steel-framed building that stretches three stories tall, according to fire officials.
The fire damaged 150 square meters of the 470 square-meter building.
Within about two and a half hours, firefighters extinguished the blaze.
The former government building is located in the town centre near Sapporo Station and is a designated important cultural property nicknamed Red bricks for its outward appearance. It is undergoing renovations and the temporary observation center, which houses the government building's famed dome top, is scheduled to open soon.
One local woman, a 37-year-old woman, said she was shocked to learn about the fire, as the government building is a symbol of Sapporo. No one was injured in the blaze, and Hokkaido police and other authorities are investigating the damage and cause of the fire. It is not yet clear if its renowned dome has suffered any damage.
The famous octagonal dome tower, which sat on top of the former government office building, was removed and moved to a spot in front of the building in August so renovations could be carried out.
The dome tower, which measures about 6.5 meters tall and approximately 8 meters wide, was moved to the temporary observation center later.
The observation center was scheduled to reopen in early October, and was built to show off the dome tower and other aspects of the former government office building.
Hokkaido police believe that the fire started on the third floor of the observation center, as the damage there is severe.
The fire didn't appear to have spread to the first or second floors, where the dome is temporarily being housed, according to police. Officials will now look into whether the heat from the fire has damaged the dome tower.
The construction of the temporary observation center is nearly finished and no work is done on Oct. 1 or 2 according to the Hokkaido government.
Officials said the third floor contained materials for exhibits, lights, and monitors, and that electricity may have been in use there when the fire started.
They said it appears that the fire did not spread to the former government office building.
The former Hokkaido government office building is a celebrated American-style neo-Baroque building that was originally built by the Meiji government in 1888.
It was rebuilt as a Gothic building after a fire destroyed it in 1909.
In 1968, its exterior was almost returned to its original state in another reconstruction effort.
In 1968, around 2.5 million bricks were used to build the current building. It was held to mark the 100th anniversary of the prefecture named Hokkaido.
It was designated as an important cultural asset by the central government in 1969.
The renovation was scheduled to last until February 2025.
A Hokkaido government official said that although we can't open the observation center as planned, we believe that the fire won't change the schedule for the renovation of the former government office building.