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Fire damages San Francisco Chinese Consulate

Associated Press
Two men look at the damage to the entrance of the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Chinese Consulate in San Francisco said Thursday that its compound was damaged in an arson attack and urged American authorities to protect the safety of its diplomats and its premises.

The consulate said in a notice on its website that a person came out of a van parked outside the compound Wednesday night with two buckets of gasoline, poured the fuel on the front of the consulate building and set it on fire.

The consulate's notice, which was in Chinese, did not identify the individual or say how the consulate knew what had caused the fire.

San Francisco police and firefighters arrived at the scene around 9:30 p.m. as crews brought the flames under control within minutes, fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said. She said the building's exterior and the lobby area suffered some damage.

No injuries were reported.

San Francisco police and fire are working with the FBI. Calls to the FBI were not immediately returned on Thursday.

The consulate notice called the incident "a sabotage of a vile nature" and said China had urged U.S. authorities to launch an immediate investigation. It also said an investigation was underway.

The fire caused "serious damage to the facilities of the consulate and endangered the safety of the consulate officials and the citizens living nearby. We express strong condemnation," the statement said.

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