Claire Fontaine Installation Starts Fire In Queen's Nails Gallery

01/24/2013 06:33 pm ET | Updated Jan 24, 2013

The art scene in Bernal Heights is burning up. Literally.

An opening at Queen's Nails Gallery got a little heated when an installation caught fire Tuesday night. The piece, titled "America (Burnt/Unburnt)," was intentionally lit. However, the exhibit quickly became too hot to handle and the San Francisco Fire Department was called in for backup.

Though the fire was put out quickly, it caused $5,000 in damages. The piece consisted of 25,000 matches arranged in a map of America. Claire Fontaine, the artist behind the vision, has replicated the installation in seven other galleries across the globe. Officials say the Queen's Nails Gallery was not equipped to manage the end result.

"This was something we would not permit if it was applied for. It was done more out of ignorance, not maliciousness, as far as we're concerned," Deputy Fire Chief Mark Gonzales told KTVU.com.

Queen's Nails Gallery responded to the incident on their website and Facebook page, claiming the flames were never out of hand.

"We would like to assure the community that the utmost precaution was taken during the controlled burning of the piece," the statement reads.

Based in Paris, Fontaine is known for her neo-conceptual works and political statements.

"Americans' rules of safety are obviously different than other countries,” Fontaine told KTVU. “The firemen who do dangerous and noble work come here and see people playing with fire and don’t like it.”

Watch Claire Fontaine's piece "France (Burnt/Unburnt)" catch fire below.

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