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Collections damaged in Cuming Museum fire

Patrick Steel, 26.03.2013
Nobody hurt, but two out of three displays lost
Nobody was injured in a fire that began yesterday at the Cuming Museum in Southwark, but the blaze has destroyed the museum’s roof and two of its displays.

It is believed collections in storage may have also suffered water damage, while the status of two objects on loan from the British Museum (BM), which were on display, is unknown.

Councillor Peter John said: “There are three galleries and artefacts have been recovered from one by the London Fire Brigade and taken to nearby council premises for storage.

“Thankfully only around 1% of the Cuming collection is out on display and it is believed that those items that are in storage should be OK, although there may be water damage."

A spokeswoman for the BM said that two glazed stoneware birds, made by the Martin Brothers in 1890, were on loan to the Cuming as part of a temporary exhibition.

The loaned items were insured, and the BM is waiting to hear whether or not they survived the fire.

London Fire Brigade was called at 12.28pm yesterday, and the fire was under control by 5.09pm.

London Fire Brigade station manager Peter Critchell, who attended yesterday's fire, said: “At the height of the incident the flames were coming through the roof and there was thick billowing grey smoke.

“We had well over 100 firefighters at the scene and used water jets to attack the fire from all four corners of the building, which was fully alight.

“We evacuated 30 people and firefighters managed to salvage around 500 artefacts from the museum."

Fire engines were still at the scene this morning, damping down the remaining pockets of fire. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Update
27.03.2013

The article was updated to include information about the BM loan.

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