Clandon fire report published
The report by Surrey Fire and Rescue Service into the cause of the devastating fire at Clandon Park has been published.
The fire broke out at our 18th-century mansion Clandon Park, near Guildford, Surrey, on 29 April 2015. Trained staff evacuated all visitors safely and no-one was injured. A well-rehearsed salvage plan enabled a significant number of valuable items to be saved from the collection.
Investigators have concluded that the fire was accidental and the probable cause was a defect in an electrical distribution board located in a cupboard in the basement.
The report states that the distribution board ‘could be assumed was delivered from the manufacturer with this fault.'
None of our staff would have been able to identify this as a potential issue. The fault had not been detected during a number of previous professional checks by electricians.
The fire spread from the basement through the lift shaft, voids and into the roof. The wind blew the fire from one side of roof to the other. The fire then burnt down to the floors below, leaving 95 per cent of the house damaged by the fire.
Despite having some measures in place to limit the spread of fire, these had not been enough to slow the blaze once it had taken hold.
Review of fire prevention
We are in the process of carrying out our own in-depth review of fire prevention policies at all our properties to see where they can be strengthened further. Our review will include checking distribution boards at all our historic mansions and looking at whether there are any further steps we can take to prevent and slow the spread of fires in future.
We are continuing to work closely with our insurers, who are carrying out their own in-depth investigation into the fire.
'The fire at Clandon was a terrible blow, with the loss of such a significant historic interior and so much of the important collections it housed,' said Dame Helen Ghosh, our Director-General.
'The response of staff, volunteers and the local community showed how much Clandon meant to so many people.
'The report from Surrey Fire and Rescue Service is welcome and important to us. The fact that we had a well-rehearsed salvage plan meant we were able to save a number of significant items from the fire, and our fire detection systems also operated as they should have done.
'But we’re certainly not complacent and we now will be working with the fire service to identify any areas for improvement in any of our properties. We have already begun a full review of our processes and systems to see where they can be strengthened further. If there are lessons for us to learn, we will act upon them and share them with others who look after historic buildings.'
Hundreds of volunteers, staff and experts worked around the clock in the days following the blaze to support the salvage operation. A well-rehearsed salvage plan meant a significant number of valuable items were saved from the fire including paintings, silver and furniture.
The Speakers’ Parlour, one of the most important rooms in the house, survived the fire almost intact.
A team of specialist salvage operators is in the process of painstakingly sifting through the debris within the house to locate further items.
The future for Clandon Park
Two vast cranes on site have been removing loose debris and items from the building since the fire and the erection of scaffolding and temporary roof is underway.
We are assessing the potential options for the house but can reassure all those who love Clandon that we will be rebuilding it in some shape or form.
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