UPDATE: No artifacts were lost in massive fire at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

The museum is home to the St. Louis Cardinals' application to join the National League and the Louisiana Purchase document.

March 27, 2019 - 1:54 am
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) updated with quotes from head of muesum— It looks like nothing of historic value was lost in the spectacular fire that gutted the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, Tuesday night. 

The Compton Heights two-story museum held countless historic documents and artifacts, including the Cardinals application to join the National League, and the French proclamation approving the Louisiana Purchase. Luckly, the fire was contained to the second level which is basically unused, says the head of the museum, Frank Absher. 

He tells KMOX, no artifacts were lost, everything of value was saved, he says thanks to the 80 firefighters who worked the fire. 

"I've tried to thank them," Absher says. "We're going to honor them Saturday night ... I told the Chief, I said 'You don't find anybody like these people. These are the best.'"

The firefighters hauled out the rare documents, all owed by California real estate magnate, David Karpeles, who exhibits portions of his vast collection at museums he owns around the country. He owns the world's largest privately-held collection of historic manuscripts, which are moved around to each of his 13 museums in parts of the U.S.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

KMOX's previous reporting below: 

Firefighters are trying to determine the cause of a massive blaze in a museum at Russell and Grand last night.

The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, across from the Compton Hill Reservoir, caught fire around 7 p.m. Tuesday. 

Inside are countless historic documents and artifacts, including the Cardinals application to join the National League, and the French proclamation approving the Louisiana Purchase. 

St. Louis Fire chief Dennis Jenkerson says he had people on the scene who quickly knew what had to be done.

"I can say some of the officers on the scene who had been through fires similar to this...they recognized the importance of some of this equipment," Jenkerson told KMOX's George Sells. 'Get it out...get these artifacts out...we can't leave them here."

80 firefighters battled the four alarm fire, and they had to rush out of the building at one point as the roof collapsed. No word yet on a cause. 

The St. Louis Fire Department posted the following videos as they fought the blaze: