Bitcoin mining believed to be behind huge fire in block of flats

A block of flats is believed to have set on fire as a result of bitcoin mining, according to reports.

The top floor of the building in Russia was destroyed in the fire while dozens of other flats were flooded as a result of water from firefighters in Artem, near Vladivostok.

It is being reported that a resident was illegally using the block’s electricity at the time in order to mine the cryptocurrency.

A heavy power surge is said to have caused overheating of the circuits, leading to the fire.

‘We have spotted something which looks like mining equipment,’ said a spokesman for the local division of the Emergencies Ministry.

Pictures from the scene show the charred remains of some of the mining equipment.

A resident called Oleg confirmed that ‘mining rig equipment was found in the attic’.

He demanded: ‘I would now ban miners totally… so many apartments are burned completely and 30 are flooded.’

Many Russians are seeking to get rich quick though bitcoins, exploiting the country’s relatively cheap electricity.

In a number of cases, ‘miners’ have broken into power supplies of residential blocks or warehouses to obtain free power, but firefighters warn this overheats electrical circuits with potentially deadly consequences.

Resident Roman Vislobokov told The Siberian Times: ‘Our apartment was across the wall from the fire.

What is Bitcoin mining?

Bitcoin works using a system called the blockchain, a virtual ledger which keeps a record of all transactions ever made using the cryptocurrency.

The entire blockchain is storied across a vast number of ‘nodes’ around the world and constantly updated.

Transactions must be recorded on the blockchain by cracking complex mathematical puzzles.

The process of solving these cryptographic conundrums is called ‘mining’ because the person whose computer cracks them is paid a number of Bitcoins.

Mining requires huge computing power, which means computers are at risk of overheating and potentially bursting into flames.

‘At first our neighbour’s attic caught fire.

‘We survived by a miracle…at about 2am my girlfriend woke me with hallucinations from carbon monoxide gas. By that time there was no electricity.

‘In the smoke and darkness we grabbed our passports, took the dog, put on our shoes and jackets – and ran.

‘For half an hour we watched as everything burned, the fire spread all over our apartment.’

A total of 5,400 square feet was destroyed or damaged by the inferno.

Separately, in secret nuclear town Sarov, the FSB secret service detained two engineers who used a government supercomputer to mine bitcoins.

They flouted rules by connecting the computer to the web.

‘They were about to get some bitcoins when FSB officers intervened and shut down this illegal farm,’ according to one report.

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