Yugoslav NATO Compound Ablaze
Oct. 18, 1999
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) _ A fire broke out today in a compound used by NATO peacekeepers, destroying a television building and slightly injuring three NATO soldiers.
NATO at first said the fire was set. Later, NATO spokesman Maj. Roland Lavoie said the fire appeared to be accidental and seemed to have been caused by a power failure.
British troops with the NATO-led peacekeeping force were staying in the building and also in nearby tents. It was unclear whether the fire originated in the building or spread to it.
A NATO spokesman, Maj. Steven Noble, said the three NATO peacekeepers sustained cuts while breaking windows to escape the blaze.
The television building housed the Pristina branch of Serbian state television, but has not been used for broadcasts since Serb forces pulled out of Kosovo in June as part of the province's peace agreement.
Kosovo Albanians who used to work there were forced to vacate it in 1990, as part of Belgrade's clampdown on the province, and they have been negotiating with Kosovo's U.N. administration to resume work there.
The blaze appeared under control about two hours after it started, although orange flames still lit up the sky.
Crew members said a NATO storage depot, with bottles of propane and possibly other explosive materials was very near to the fire _ within the television building compound _ but the flames were doused without further incident.
A store selling audio tapes and compact discs also was destroyed.
In a separate incident early today, a Norwegian soldier suffered superficial thigh wounds when shots were fired toward a patrol of peacekeepers in southwestern Kosovo Polje, Maj. Roland Lavoie, a military spokesman, said. The shooters managed to escape.
On Sunday, two children were killed and one was seriously injured in a field in southern Yugoslavia when one of the children apparently touched a small bomb, Lavoie said. Brigade engineers were investigating to verify the nature of the explosive. The area had not been marked as a minefield or a strike area.
Also Sunday, a decomposed body was found in a shallow grave in eastern Pristina, but no other details were immediately available.