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The Latest: San Francisco Russia consulate starts move-out

Black smoke rises from the roof of the Consulate-General of Russia Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, in San Francisco. The U.S. on Thursday ordered Russia to shut its San Francisco consulate and close offices in Washington and New York within 48 hours in response to Russia's decision last month to cut U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia. Fireman were called to the consul, but were turned away after being told there was no problem. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on the closure of the Russian consulate in San Francisco (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

Officials at the Russian consulate in San Francisco have begun moving out of the building, a day after the Trump administration ordered it closed.

Two men could be seen carrying boxes from the stately building in a historic San Francisco neighborhood on Friday afternoon, then loading them into a car with tinted windows and diplomatic license plates.

For hours earlier Friday, acrid black smoke poured from a chimney at the consulate, but officials turned away firefighters who arrived on the scene.

An Associated Press reporter heard people who came from inside the building tell firefighters that there was no problem and that consulate staff were burning unidentified items in a fireplace.

The consulate’s workers are hurrying to shut Russia’s oldest consulate in the U.S. by a Saturday deadline.

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3:50 p.m.

The agency that monitors air quality in the San Francisco Bay Area dispatched an inspector to the Russian consulate to investigate potential air pollution violations after black smoke poured from a chimney for several hours.

But Bay Area Quality Management District spokeswoman Lisa Fasano said when the inspector arrived Friday afternoon he didn’t observe any smoke or potential violations.

Temperatures were forecast to climb above 100 degrees in San Francisco on Friday, a record, sparking a “Spare the Air” day. There are restrictions on excessive chimney smoke and burning garbage, plastics or other harmful materials in fireplaces.

The smoke was seen billowing from the consulate building a day after the Trump administration ordered its closure.

Firefighters who arrived at the scene were not allowed to enter the building Friday.

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2:30 p.m.

Russia is accusing the U.S. of gross violations of international law in its order to Moscow to close the Russian consulate in San Francisco by Saturday.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claims U.S. “special services” intend to search the consulate Saturday. She says that the U.S. also plans to search apartments in San Francisco used by Russian diplomats and their families. Zakharova says that involves the families leaving their apartments for 10 to 12 hours so officials can search.

The State Department isn’t commenting specifically on whether officials plan to search the premises. But the State Department says as of Saturday, access to the consulate will only be granted with State Department permission. The State Department says it will “secure and maintain the properties in keeping with our responsibilities.”

The State Department had no comment on the black smoke coming from the Russian embassy in San Francisco.

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12:50 p.m.

The San Francisco Fire Department says acrid, black smoke seen pouring from a chimney at the Russian consulate in San Francisco was apparently from a fire burning in a fireplace.

The smoke was seen billowing from the consulate building a day after the Trump administration ordered its closure.

Firefighters who arrived at the scene were not allowed to enter the building Friday.

San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge says the department received a call about the smoke and sent a crew to investigate but determined the smoke was coming from the chimney.

An Associated Press reporter heard people who came from inside the building tell firefighters that there was no problem and that consulate staff were burning unidentified items in a fireplace.

Talmadge said she did not know what they were burning on a day when normally cool San Francisco temperatures were 95 degrees.

She said the fire “was not unintentional. They were burning something in their fireplace.”

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This item was corrected to correct the spelling of Mindy Talmadge’s name.

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12:30 p.m.

Acrid, black smoke has been seen pouring from a chimney at the Russian consulate in San Francisco a day after the Trump administration ordered its closure amid escalating tensions between the United States and Russia.

Firefighters who arrived at the scene were not allowed to enter the building Friday.

An Associated Press reporter heard people who came from inside the building tell firefighters that there was no problem and that consulate staff were burning unidentified items in a fireplace.

The consulate’s workers are hurrying to shut one of Russia’s oldest consulates in the U.S.

The deadline for the consulate to close is Saturday.

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