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7 die in fire destroying Argentine bank archives

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MICHAEL WARREN | February 5, 2014 10:22 AM EST | AP

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Seven first-responders were killed and nine others injured Wednesday battling a fire of unknown origin that destroyed an archive of bank documents in Argentina's capital.

The fire at the Iron Mountain warehouse took hours to control and the sprawling building appeared to be ruined despite the efforts of at least 10 squads of firefighters.

Five firefighters and two civil defense workers were killed when a wall of the building collapsed on top of a large group of first-responders on the sidewalk and street outside, Argentina's Security Secretary Sergio Berni said.

Rescuers removed rubble by hand to reach the dead and injured. Nine people were hospitalized with serious injuries, national civil defense director Alberto Crescienti

The destroyed archives included documents stored for Argentina's banking industry, said Buenos Aires security minister Guillermo Montenegro.

The cause of the fire wasn't immediately clear.

Iron Mountain's Argentina subsidiary advertises that its facilities have multiple protections against fire, including advanced systems that use gases to quench flames without damaging important documents. The Associated Press' requests for company comment were not immediately returned.

"There are cameras in the area, and these videos will be added to the judicial investigation, to clear up the motive of the fire and collapse," Montenegro told the Diarios y Noticias agency.