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Fire leaves circus students without a school

By M.ZOLJARGAL

A fire broke out at the 125-year-old building used for Mongolia’s only professional circus school on Tuesday night, in Sukhbaatar District.
A team of 15 circus arts teachers have been training over 60 students in the building and the school has been left without a new home after to the fire. More than 70 percent of the building was damaged in the fire. The school administration highlighted that the circus teachers and students were not able to rent the National Circus for training due to high rental costs.
A total of 51 firefighters from the Ulaanbaatar Emergency Management Agency assisted in putting out the fire at around 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday. They managed to extinguish the fire after five hours.
A preliminary investigation stated that the fire broke out in the ceiling area. The police suspect that the fire might have derived from repair work in the building. No one was inside the building when the fire broke out and the fire was reported only after it was visible to nearby residents.
“The cause of the fire will be announced in two weeks. However, welding work was done on the ceiling the day the fire broke out. We believe that this was the cause of the fire. The building is not a regular place. It is a part of our tangible national heritage and a circus school with a history of 75 years,” said arts director and administration official of the  school, Yu.Gerelbaatar.
The building is located in the eighth khoroo of Sukhbaatar District, near the Music and Dance College. It was originally built by the order of Bogd Khan’s wife, Queen Consort Ts.Dondogdulam, in the 1880s. The queen used the building for storing valuable treatises and books. Since 1930, the building was used as a circus theater, until 1971 when the National Circus opened. Since then, the school has occupied the building. Around 1,800 students have since graduated from the school.
The school accepted 64 students this year and it urgently needs a building designed for circus arts training to resume its operation. “It was the only suitable place for circus arts training in the city. We don’t know what to do to continue the school’s operations now,” said some of the students who arrived at the scene of the fire. No repair work has been done at the building for many years.
“Artists of the Circus School used to make small repairs to the building. The building wouldn’t have received such major damage if more attention was paid to this historically significant building, which birthed circus artists who raise Mongolia’s name on international stages,” said Yu.Gerelbaatar. “We hope the state will help us find a solution for the problem. The National Circus can be rented for us with state financing. We will be able to find a place for storing the remaining belongings of the school,” the arts director added.

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