Some 250 firefighters with their 14 fire engines succeeded in extinguishing a fire that broke out Monday at this capital's Municipal Theater, the most important stage in Chile for drama and dance.

"The situation is absolutely under control," Santiago fire chief Mauricio Repetto told reporters.

The city's Mayor Carolina Toha said that what happened was "a dramatic situation" for the theater, inaugurated in September 1857, because, she said, "it badly affects the work teams constructing the stage sets."

She said the blaze was also worrying because it occurred near the school of ballet, which is in the midst of being remodeled and is soon to be inaugurated.

The theater is about four blocks from La Moneda, seat of the Chilean government.

The fire broke out around 1:40 p.m., according to police, who quickly cordoned off the area.

This was the second blaze to scar the Municipal Theater with its capacity for 1,500 spectators in the main area and 250 in the Claudio Arrau boxes.

The first occurred soon after the curtain came down on a performance on Dec. 8, 1870, and destroyed the theater completely.

Rebuilt and reinaugurated in July 1873, and retaining much of its original appearance, it was further damaged by an earthquake in 1906 and a minor fire in 1924.

During the massive earthquake of Feb. 27, 2010, it was damaged once more and remained closed for almost six months. EFE