On 20 may, 2008, a blaze broke out beneath the roof of the building over the main concert hall of the Berlin Philarmonic, which seats 2,440 and is famed for its extraordinary acoustics. There were no injuries.
The fire was located in an interior area between the insulated ceiling and the metal skin of the roof and it is believed to have been a combination of roof materials such as insulation, wood and tar paper was on fire. A room containing technical equipment was located beneath the spot.
The fire broke out when 400 people were letting the building and an hour before 700 people were due to start rehearsing for a series of weekend concerts being directed by Claudio Abbado.
One-quarter of the roof underwent considerable damage as firefighters cut openings to reach the flames beneath the roof. The cause of the fire was attributed to welding work, and no serious damage was caused either to the structure or interior of the building. Initial reports, in particular, indicated that welding work which had been carried out earlier in the week was to blame for the fire, which broke out shortly after the end of a lunchtime concert. It is thought that sparks from welding tools set light to insulation material in the roof and had subsequently set fire to the VIP box
Musicians rushed to save about 50 “priceless” instruments (most of them string instruments), that were removed before fire could damage them.