Just after the Trump administration gave Russian diplomats notice that they needed to vacate a consulate in San Francisco and anexes in Washington, D.C., and New York, the ‘Frisco consulate started billowing smoke. The San Francisco Fire Department determined that it was simply smoke emanating from the consulate’s fireplace, but it’s not clear yet what exactly was being burned.
Mindy Talamadge, a SF fire department spokesperson, stated that the fire was not unintentional. “They had a fire going in their fireplace,” she said. However, it wasn’t clear what exactly was being burned.
The Associated Press notes that the San Francisco consulate operated in especially fraught territory, given the Trump administration’s crackdown on visas that affected the technology sector. It’s not only the tech industry that has the San Francisco under watch; at Russian consulates in other areas, allegations have sprung that these diplomatic centers are being used for other purposes, including espionage. However, the significant Russian population in San Francisco has also offered credence to the center’s numerous legitimate services, including approval of visas for immigrants.
It’s worth noting that as of the San Francisco closure, Russia will have just three consulates in the U.S, including locations inWashington, D.C., Seattle, and Houston. Given Tropical Storm Harvey, the later may be out of commission for an undetermined amount of time. But Twitter, as per usual, has its own opinions about the implications.
(Via Associated Press)