FEB 01] COVENTRY CATHEDRAL NEWS
Fire Grips Coventry Cathedral
Cathedral’s world-famous tapestry may have been badly damaged by
smoke which filled the building after a fire today.
fire engines and control vehicles were called in to tackle the blaze
which was discovered in the basement of the cathedral shortly after
practicing for a major service tomorrow night were evacuated as
firefighters from all over the West Midlands were called in.
blaze is believed to have taken hold in a store room. It was put
out by crews from Canley fire station, while others waited to
give their back-up in case the fire spread under the huge building.
the main fear now is that smoke from the fire will have damaged the
Graham Sutherland tapestry and other works of art in the cathedral.
equipment was being brought in by the fire service to try and get the
smoke out of the basement without it getting into the main part of the
an emergency smoke extraction system, installed when the building was
consecrated in 1962, was set in use for the first time.
King, who discovered the fire and raised the alarm, said:
was shaking like a leaf. I’ve never seen a fire before. I alerted
the fire brigade – it was the first time my mobile phone has come
in useful, and I told the song-master to get the choir out.
Rupert Jeffcoate said there were 22 boys aged between seven and 13
rehearsing in a room near the fire.
said they were evacuated and waited outside the building until the
children were taken to school.
Andrew White said he was very worried about the state of the art in
building, particularly the tapestry.
got all the people out and now we have to wait until we are allowed
to go and see what damage has been done. Smoke can be very harmful
to works of art and I’m very worried about what damage there
added that the service planned for tomorrow night would go ahead in
one form or another
officer Paul Thomason said a big effort was being made to contain the
smoke. He said:
problem is the fire is in a basement, and you can’t just open a
are trying to manage the smoke and get it out of the building the
way we want to so it doesn’t do too much damage.”
added that the cause of the fire was unknown:
don’t usually just start in a store room so we will have to
investigate. I’m not saying it is suspicious or arson but we need
to have a look at the cause.”
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