Investigators believe Cuming Museum fire started by building contractors - Museums Association

Investigators believe Cuming Museum fire started by building contractors

Fire started accidentally by roofers using blow torch
Patrick Steel
The Cuming Museum fire was caused by roofers using a blow torch, investigators for the London Fire Brigade (LFB) believe.

A report into the incident, completed last month but only now made public, reveals investigators believed that the fire was caused by building work being carried out on the roof.

According to an LFB spokeswoman, it is believed that the fire was started accidentally.

The council is carrying out its own investigation into the incident, which saw the loss of two out of three of the museum’s displays and water damage to a number of objects in storage as over 100 fire fighters struggled to contain the blaze.

A council spokeswoman said: "We are close to completing our investigations on the cause of the fire, including the possibility that the fire may have resulted from work being carried out on the roof of the building.

"The council will give full consideration to the final report and will need to properly consider what, if any, further action it wishes to take."

Meanwhile, it was revealed that following the fire thieves broke into the burnt-out museum building and stole an ornate Asian tray along with some personal possessions belonging to museum staff.

The crime has been reported to the police, and the council believes that the tray was the only object stolen from the museum.

The thieves risked death by entering the museum building where parts of the roof have collapsed and asbestos has been discovered.

Veronica Ward, cabinet member for culture, said: “Anyone entering this building without the proper safety equipment and expertise is literally taking their life in their own hands.

“We are devastated that in addition to the losses suffered in the recent fire, we have now lost at least one other artefact to a thief.”

The museum's onsite services remain closed. The council’s conservation team is collaborating with English Heritage on the recovery of the listed fabric of the building.

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