Monday, May 21, 2007


Ship Wrecked: Fire Hits Cutty Sark


Sky News
May 21, 2007

After the blaze

The trust responsible for the Cutty Sark says it is confident the ship can be restored following the huge fire that left it badly damaged.

Eight fire engines were called to the scene in Greenwich, south east London shortly before 5am.

Chris Levett, the chairman of Cutty Sark Enterprises, said that while the ship's decks were "unsalvageable", the damage did not appear as bad as originally feared and he was confident it could be restored.

"It will be the old ship. The ship has been through many things in its lifetime. It has sailed the oceans of the world, it has battled with nature through its life," he said.

"She is a one off, she is a national treasure.

"This is going to make us even more determined to get this ship back up and running and keep her as original as possible."

The fire is being treated as suspicious and police are checking CCTV images taken over night. There are no reports of any injuries.

Local resident Joe Szarwiczk, whose flat overlooks the Cutty Sark said he was awoken by fire alarms.

The Cutty Sark in flames

"It was awful to see the whole length of the ship ablaze. It's a disaster," he said.

Alexandra Grant, who lives nearby said: "The firemen were trying to hack holes in the fence that surrounds the Cutty Sark.

"It took them a while to get through."

Ian Allchin from the London Fire Brigade said: "There is substantial damage to the ship and we'll be here for several hours.

"Our fire investigation team is working with the police to establish the cause of the fire."

Chief Inspector Bruce Middlemass said: "There are indications that there were people in the area at the time the fire started.

"There is no evidence at the moment to suggest it was arson, it could just have been an accident."

Greenwich town centre was shut to traffic for more than an hour and some local residents were evacuated from their homes.

Some roads have now reopened but disruption and delays are expected to affect the surrounding area for many hours. The Docklands Light Railway has also been closed.

The ship had been shut to the public for extensive renovation work. It was due to reopen in 2009.

At least half of the ship's infrastructure and all the artefacts normally on board were not at the site at the time of the fire.

The Clyde-built Cutty Sark was, in 1869, one of the last sailing clippers to be built.

She was destined for the tea trade - an intensely competitive race across the globe from China to London, with immense profits for the ship to arrive with the first tea of the year.


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