Second Fire almost Destroys the Glasgow School of Art

Fire blazes through the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh building on 16 June 2018. ‘The heart of Glasgow’s Mackintosh legacy has been ripped away.’ Photograph: Scottish Fire Service Handout/EPA (

A ferocious fire has devastated – probably destroying the 50 percent irreparably – the School of Art, a masterpiece by the Scottish architect Rennie Mackintosh. The building was famous because, together with works by Victor Horta, Henry Van de Velde, Adolf Loos and the American Louis Sullivan, represented a peak of that style that marked the passage from nineteenth-century eclecticism to modernity, functionalism and even twentieth century rationalism. Continue reading “Second Fire almost Destroys the Glasgow School of Art”

Fire in church during renovation works in Lucca (Italy)

A fire occurred in one of the major monuments in Lucca, the Guinigi chapel within the complex of San Francesco. The building dates from the second half of the 300 and it was subject to restoration and modernization works. The smoke has completely blackened medieval frescoes and decorations.
According to a reconstruction, the first flames have started when the workers engaged in the construction of a ventilation system, had just started to weld two sleeves of polyurethane tubing that is approximately 80 cm in diameter by an electric welder. Probably, on this occasion there was a short circuit. The same workers have tried to stop the fire by closing the vents of the ventilation system, then tried to extinguish the fire with extinguishers but the flames were too high and the air no more breathable.
In a short time, fire and smoke have saturated the whole chapel blacking out the plaster beneath which lie the fourteenth-century decor. Two teams of firefighters have prevented the flames from reaching the other rooms of the museum complex

guinigi lucca 1On December 27th, 2010 a fire occurred in one of the major monuments in Lucca, the Guinigi chapel within the complex of San Francesco. The building dates from the second half of the 300 and it was subject to restoration and modernization works. The smoke has completely blackened medieval frescoes and decorations.

According to a reconstruction, the first flames have started when the workers engaged in the construction of a ventilation system, had just started to weld two sleeves of polyurethane tubing that is approximately 80 cm in diameter by an electric welder. Probably, on this occasion there was a short circuit. The same workers have tried to stop the fire by closing the vents of the ventilation system, then tried to extinguish the fire with extinguishers but the flames were too high and the air no more breathable.

In a short time, fire and smoke have saturated the whole chapel blacking out the plaster beneath which lie the fourteenth-century decor. Two teams of firefighters have prevented the flames from reaching the other rooms of the museum complex.

According to first assessments, damages reach 100.000 euros.

Philips Collection Fire – Washington DC (USA)

aOn September 2, 2010, a fire started on the roof of the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., and it has been extinguished, with no injuries reported and no  serious damage to artworks. The artworks  could have incurred significant damage in the fire, which was “renovation-related.”

The blaze, which had erupted at about 8:30 a.m., was put out by a combination of the museum’s sprinkler system and responding firemen, but with limited water damage on all floors.

The fire was restricted to the collection’s building that served as the institution’s original home. After the fire has been extinguished, museum staff has moved  artworks from the mansion into the adjacent Goh Annex.

The collection has been evacuated and closed after the fire spread smoke through the building. Fire alarms went off at the building around 8:30 a.m. .

The cause is still under investigation, but the building is under renovation and investigators believe welding work may be the culprit.

Automatic sprinklers were set off on all four floors of the museum, containing the fire which was then extinguished by firefighters.

The building sustained moderate water damage on all four floors, with the top two sustaining moderate smoke damage.

About 50 firefighters were at the gallery.

The museum currently holds some 3,000 artworks, primarily American and European.

Fire at Restoration Center in Moscow (Russia)

1On July 21, 2010, a blaze has killed two firefighters in a Moscow restoration center. Several paintings and icons stored on the third floor of the Igor Grabar Restoration Center were lost in a fire too. Such paintings, icons and other artifacts from the 17th to the 19th centuries were stored at the Grabar pending restoration. The blaze, which lasted for two hours, covered an area of 2,000 m2.

Paintings and icons survived the fire are feared to be irretrievably lost due to water damage. Art works not affected by the fire could suffer damage from the large amount of water used by firemen to control the fire, since water can inevitably lead to the appearance of mould on paintings and icons. An accurate assessment of the damage to the artworks at the centre from the fire could only be determined after a full inventory of the remaining assets. The fire could run into hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of roubles. A single icon is considered 12 mln euros worth.

Twenty fire companies responded to the scene on Thursday and four helicopters dumped water on hot spots in the building 104 times.

The cause of the fire is  unknown but there’s the suspect the fire started where restoration specialists were working at the facility or welding crew were working in the interior of the center.

Fire destroys 17th century Painting in Venice Church (Italy)


On May 4, 2010, a deposit of building materials caught fire outside the church of Santa Maria dei Derelitti in Venice. At approximately 4.30 a.m., the flames penetrated into the building through a window and destroyed a painting (oil on panel) by Antonio Molinari dated second half of 1600. The flames did not propagate to other parts of the church but some damages were reported to paintings by Giovan Battista Tiepolo and other artists as well as artifacts that had been saved by firefighters.

Burnt building materials were used in the construction of a gas pipes in the nearby road.

The ceiling frescoes by Giuseppe Cherubini were damaged as well as the original 18th-century pipe organ. At the moment it is not known if the other damaged paintings in the church can be restored

Restoration works will require a long period of time and the church will remain closed because it will be necessary to disassemble the organ and individually clean each one of the organ pipes.


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Windsor Castle Fire London (UK)

1The 1992 Windsor Castle fire occurred on Friday, 20 November 1992 in Windsor Castle, to the west of London, England the largest inhabited castle in the world and one of the official residences of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. The castle suffered severe damage in a fire, which destroyed some of the most historic parts of the building. Over the next few years the castle was fully repaired at great expense. The question of how the funds required should be found raised important issues about the financing of the monarchy, and led to Buckingham Palace being opened to the public for the first time to help to pay for the restoration.

The fire began in The Queen’s Private Chapel at 11.33 a.m. on Friday 20 November 1992, when a spotlight ignited a curtain. The alarm went off in the watch-room of the Castle fire brigade, manned by Chief Fire Office Marshall Smith. The site of the fire was shown by a light on a large grid map of the whole castle. Initially the Brunswick Tower alone was indicated, but lights soon lit up indicating that the fire had quickly spread to several neighbouring rooms. The major part of the State Apartments were soon ablaze.

Patrolling firemen were paged by an automatic system, and at 11.37 a.m. Mr Smith pressed the switch to alert the Control Room at Reading. He then activated the public fire alarm, known as an ER7 alert (a continuous high pitch tone), and telephoned the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service on a direct line.

Mr Smith proceeded to the Brunswick Tower to assess the situation, and to begin the salvage operations which, together with fire precautions, had been the main responsibility of the castle brigade since the county force took over responsibility for fire-fighting at Windsor Castle in September 1991.

The Castle still had its own 20 strong force, of whom six were full-time. Equipped with a Land Rover and pump tender, they were based in the Royal Mews, stables south of the castle.

The first appliances of the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service arrived at the castle between 11.44 and 11.45 a.m., some 7–8 minutes after the alert was given. By 11.48 a.m. 10 pumping appliances had been ordered to the fire and the principal officer on duty within the brigade the Deputy Chief Officer David Harper had been informed.

By 12.12 p.m. there were 20 engines, and by 12.20 p.m. there were 35, with over 200 firemen from London, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, and Oxfordshire, as well as from Berkshire.

The Fire Incident Commander was David Harper, Deputy Chief Fire and Rescue Officer of the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service. The Chief Officer Garth Scotford was out of the country, on holiday.

By 12.20 p.m. the fire had spread to St George’s Hall, the largest of the State Apartments, and further reinforcements were called. The fire-fighting forces by then totalled 39 appliances (including two hydraulic platforms) and 225 fire-fighters. As an indication of the scale of the fire, there had been only one 30-appliance fire in the whole of Greater London since 1973.

By 1.30 p.m. firebreaks had been erected by tradesmen at the southern wall of the Green Drawing Room (at the end of St George’s Hall on the east side of the Quadrangle), and at the north-west corner at Chester Tower, where that tower joins the Grand Corridor. The fire-fighters had by this time begun to bring the fire under control (though the roof of the State Apartments had begun to collapse).

At 3.30 p.m. the fire was surrounded, and the floors of the Brunswick Tower collapsed, concentrating the fire there. Firemen had to temporarily withdraw to locate three men who were briefly lost in the smoke, and on a second occasion withdrew when men were temporarily unaccounted for when a roof fell in.

At 4.15 p.m. the fire had revived in the Brunswick Tower. As night fell the fire was concentrated in the Brunswick Tower, which by 6.30 p.m. was engulfed in flames 50 feet (15 m) high, which could be seen for many miles. At 7 p.m. the fire broke through the roof of the tower, and later the roof of St George’s Hall finally collapsed into the conflagration.

By 8 p.m. the fire was finally under control, having burnt for nine hours, although it continued to burn for a further three hours. By 11 p.m. however the main fire was extinguished, and by 2.30 a.m. the last secondary fires were put out. Pockets of fire remained alive until early Saturday, some 15 hours later. Sixty firemen with eight appliances remained on duty for several more days.

The fire had spread rapidly due to lack of fire stopping in cavities and roof voids.[2]

Over one million gallons (4,500 tons) of water from Castle mains and from the River Thames had been used in fighting the fire.

Apart from the several hundred firemen directly involved in fighting the fire,[3] staff and tradesmen helped the Castle fire brigade and volunteer salvage corps members. They removed furniture and works of art from the endangered apartments, including a 150-foot (46 m) long table, and a 120-foot (37 m) long carpet from the Waterloo Chamber, to the safety of the castle Riding School. Also removed, in an enormous logistics exercise, were 300 clocks, a collection of miniatures, many thousands of valuable books and manuscripts, and old Master drawings from the Royal Library.

On fire officers’ instructions heavy chests and tables were left behind. All items were placed on giant sheets of plastic on the North Terrace and in the Quadrangle, and the police called in dozens of removal vans from a large part of the Home Counties to carry items to other parts of the Castle.

Others of the Castle staff involved included Major Barry Eastwood, Castle Superintendent (head of administration), and the Governor of the Castle, General Sir Patrick Palmer. The staff of St. George’s Chapel and Estate workers also assisted in various ways.

Members of the Royal Household helped, including the Lord Chamberlain, the Earl of Airlie. The Royal Collection Department were especially active, including the Director Sir Geoffrey de Bellaigue, the Surveyor of Pictures Christopher Lloyd, the Deputy Surveyor of The Queen’s Works of Art Hugh Roberts, the Curator of Print Room Hon Mrs Roberts, and Librarian Oliver Everett.

The Household Cavalry arrived from Combermere Barracks, St Leonard’s Road, Windsor. Some 100 officers and men of the Life Guards also proved invaluable for moving bulky items. Officers of the Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Department, led by Chief Inspector KR Miller, were also present.

Queen Elizabeth II had been advised of the fire by a mobile phone call from the Duke of York. The Duke had been in the mews across the Quadrangle from the State Apartments, doing research work for his course at the Staff College, Camberley when the fire broke out.

The Queen arrived at 3 p.m., and stayed at the castle for an hour, returning again the following morning. The Prince of Wales visited in the evening. The Duke of York briefed the press at 3 p.m.

There had been no serious injuries, and no deaths. Dean Lansdale (aged 21), a decorator in the Private Chapel, was burnt while removing pictures (of which he had rescued three). He was moved to the royal surgery then to hospital. Christopher Lloyd, the Surveyor of The Queen’s Pictures, suffered a suspected heart attack, while five firemen were taken to hospital, two with hypothermia, three with minor burns and dust in their eyes.

The major loss was to the fabric of the Castle. The false roof above St George’s Hall and the void beneath the floors for coal trucks had allowed the fire to spread. It burnt as far as the Chester Tower. Several ceilings collapsed. Apartments burnt included the Crimson Drawing Room (which was completely gutted), the Green Drawing Room (badly damaged, though only partially destroyed, by smoke and water), and The Queen’s Private Chapel (including the double sided nineteenth century Henry Willis organ in the gallery between St George’s Hall and Private Chapel, oak panelling, glass, and the altar).

St George’s Hall partially survived, with the wall largely intact, but with the ceiling collapsed. The State Dining Room (in the Prince of Wales Tower; which was badly damaged, as was the fabric of the tower), and the Grand Reception Room (80% severely damaged, though 20% of the ceiling was eventually saved) were also devastated.

Smaller apartments damaged or destroyed (and over 100 rooms were involved in the fire) included the Star Chamber, Octagon Room, Brunswick Tower, Cornwall Tower, Prince of Wales Tower (badly damaged), Chester Tower (badly damaged), Holbein Room, and the Great Kitchen (which lost its plaster cove, and most of its mediæval timber).

The external wall above the bay window of the Crimson Drawing Room (between the Prince of Wales and Chester Towers) was seriously calcified.

The Waterloo Chamber was undamaged, as were the Grand Vestibule, Rubens Room, Ante-Throne Room, Throne Room, Ball Room, Serving Room, and China Closet (which was not affected although it was surrounded by the fire). Overall some 80% of the area of the staterooms was undamaged.

Fortuitously the seven most seriously damaged rooms had largely been emptied the previous day for rewiring. The Castle had just completed an 18-month phase of rewiring in most of the rooms destroyed.

Items from the Royal Collection lost included the Sir William Beechy equestrian portrait George III at a Review, which was too large to remove from its frame; a large late 1820s sideboard by Morel and Seddon (18 feet long); several pieces of porcelain; several chandeliers; as well as the Willis organ; and the 1851 Great Exhibition Axminster carpet partly burnt.

Tourists were allowed into the precincts within three days. The Queen was in residence a fortnight later. The Gallery and Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House reopened in December. The State Apartments reopened early 1993 after rewiring was completed, with all major rooms open by Easter, when only St George’s Hall and the Grand Reception Room remained closed. Thus 11 of 15 principal rooms of the State Apartments were open, with two still undergoing long-term restoration, and two more destroyed.

It was initially feared that it could cost £60m to restore the castle, though the final cost was £36.5m. A trust for donations towards the cost of fire restoration was announced 16 February 1993 by Coutts & Co (with NatWest).

On 29 April 1993 it was announced that up to 70% of the cost of restoration was to be met by charging the public £3 for entry to the Castle precincts, and £8 for admission to Buckingham Palace for the next five years. Her Majesty The Queen was to personally contribute £2m.

On 7 June 1994 the details of the £40m restoration programme were announced. The architectural firm Sidell Gibson Partnership were appointed to produce the final designs.

Over half the damaged and destroyed rooms, including the State and Octagon dining rooms were to be restored as original. There were to be new designs for the St George’s Hall ceiling (with steel reinforcing beams in the roof) and East Screen, also The Queen’s Private Chapel, Stuart and Holbein Room. However, only The Queen’s Private Chapel and several modern rooms were to be restored in a modern style.

Designs were to be submitted to a Restoration Committee, whose chairman was Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Deputy Chairman The Prince of Wales. Members included the Earl of Airlie (Lord Chamberlain), Sir Hayden Phillips (Permanent Secretary of the Department of National Heritage), Lord St John of Fawsley (Chairman of the Royal Fine Art Commission), Sir Jocelyn Stevens (Chairman of English Heritage), Frank Duffy (President of the Royal Institute of British Architects), and three senior palace officials.

New designs for St George’s Hall (the principal reception room in the palace), and The Queen’s Private Chapel, were approved by The Queen on 24 January, 1995.

The fire, catastrophic though it was, has presented the opportunity for some major new royal architectural work. Although criticised in some circles for allegedly lacking imagination, the architects believed that given the history of the building and the surviving fabric, the new work had to be Gothic.

The new roof for St George’s Hall is an example of a hammer-beam ceiling. The new chapel and adjoining cloisters were realigned to form a new processional route from the private apartments, through an octagonal vestibule, into St George’s Hall.

The first, structural, stage of the restoration was completed May 1996. Final fitting out, which was originally planned to finish by spring 1998, occurred on 17 November, 1997.

(text from wikipedia en)

Fire of the Dome of St. Petersburg Cathedral (Russia)

2On August 25, 2006 the domes of the landmark 19th-century Trinity Cathedral were all but destroyed in a blaze that erupted at the top of the stately building. The cause of the fire was not immediately known, but acting St. Petersburg emergency department chief Leonid Belyayev said the blaze apparently started on scaffolding on the outside of the church, which was undergoing restoration. The most valuable icons and other items had been saved, and that structural damage beneath the roof area was minor.
The fire hit the 19th-century cathedral in St. Petersburg early at 5 p.m., bringing down the main cupola atop the majestic church in Russia’s former Imperial capital. All icons and other valuables were safely removed from the cathedral to be deposited partially in the Hermitage, and partially at the Alexander Nevsky Lavra (Monastery).
The damage wreaked by the fire is estimated at over 1.6 million rubles, according to preliminary calculations.
Trinity Cathedral was built between 1828 and 1835 to a design by Vasily Stasov. The main dome of the cathedral was the second-largest wooden cupola in Europe. Writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky was married there. The building was used as a storehouse during the Soviet era and was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1990. The cathedral is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Berlin Philarmonic Fire (Germany)

aOn 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.

The Quebec City Armouries Fire (Canada)


On April 5, 2008, the Quebec City Armouries, a Gothic Revival drill hall in Quebec City, Canada (built between 1885 and 1888 and designed by architect Eugène-Étienne Taché) was destroyed by a fire  and all but a rear wall and turrets from the front door were destroyed.

The most all of the archives stored at the Quebec City armoury were spared by a fire that gutted the historic building. A museum in the amoury which housed various artifacts from the regiment was also lost in the fire. Though, officials estimate 90 percent of the artifacts were saved due to efforts by members of the regiment and local firefighters.

The armoury wooden roof was one of the largest in Canada and it was undergoing renovations

Calls have been made by politicians to rebuild the armoury,to which the federal government has responded positively by allocating $2 million for reconstruction planning.

16th century Building Fire in Bologna (Italy)

1On August 8th, 2007, a fire due to renovation works has severely damaged the historical Bologna’s building Palazzo Albergati.

In the early afternoon of a hot day, workers who were installing roof caulking have called firefighters after having tried to tackle the fire with a fire extinguisher, due to the sparkles  or the open flames generated during the works.

Firefighters have used ladders and an helicopter.

In the building, where several professional office were hosted, there were 18th century furniture and frescoes. Damages  have been recorded also to archive and computer of the offices.

700 years old Church Fire in Bistrita (Romania)

Image released into the public domain by its author, Muzsi Endre-Előd.

The 700-year-old Evangelist church in the city of Bistrita in Romania’s Transylvania region burned  June 11, 2008 during renovation works. According to official sources the church’s main spire, which at 75 meters (247-feet) is the highest in Transylvania, collapsed during the blaze.

The church is the main attraction of Bistriţa’s central square. It was built by the Transylvanian Saxons and originally constructed in the 14th century in Gothic style but later remodeled between 1559–1563 by Petrus Italuswith Renaissance features. It was re-renovated in 1998.
The reasons of the fire are yet unknown.