Arson in Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona (Spain)

A disturbed man has started a fire on April 19th 2011 in Barcelona’s Cathedral Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudì’s masterpiece. The man of around 55 has been found with several lighters in his pocket.

Around 1.000 people were evacuated from the cathedral, which is one of the most popular tourist sites in Spain’s second-largest city.

The blaze was extinguished and four people were treated for smoke inhalation. The fire seems to have caused a significant damage to the sacristy where it was ignited and it burned for about 45 minutes.

The fire occurred in the church’s crypt, where prests prepare for Mass, open for religious purposes and it caused some damage to the crypt. The church has been temporarily closed to the public.

Some tourists saw smoke coming from inside the sacristy and alerted authorities.

The Arson Threat to the Built Heritage and Historical Buildings

We publish the paper concerning the arson threat to the built heritage already published by the COST Action C17: Built Heritage: Fire Loss to Historic Buildings in its Final Report Part 1 (pages 90-92)

La Fenice Venice

On Friday 30 March 2001, a court in Venice found two electricians guilty of setting fire to La Fenice opera house in the city in 1996. Enrico Carella and his cousin, Massimiliano Marchetti, were found to have set the building ablaze because their company was facing heavy fines over delays in repair work. Mr Carella, the company’s owner, was sent to prison for seven years, while Mr Marchetti received a six-year sentence. The rebuilding of the famous theatre, for which Giuseppi Verdi composed several operas, was delayed and did not re-open until 2004. The fire on 29 January 1996 happened as the Teatro La Fenice was being renovated. The subsequent rebuilding did not go according to plan and the original German-Italian consortium of Holzmann-Romagnoli had asked for supplementary and fee waivers before the work was re-tendered by the City Mayor Paolo Costa.

Sinsheim Mosque, Germany

On the 18 November 2004 unknown individuals threw a Molotov cocktail at a mosque near Heidelberg in Germany. A glass bottle filled with flammable liquid was tossed against the entrance of the Sinsheim mosque. The fire was discovered and extinguished after it caused around €10,000 damage to the wooden door and the glass window.

Wooden Churches, Poland

In Poland, wooden church were found to be particularly at risk. Between 1999 and 2000, 50 churches burnt down. The most frequent cause of fire is not damage to electric installations, but a fire lit deliberately. Poland has a substantial amount of sacred wooden architecture, which make an important, often unique, contribution to European heritage. It consists in part of wooden churches, built between the C14 and C19, mainly Catholic, but there are also other churches, including Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic-orthodox, Dukhobor, Jewish and Mariavites churches. Wooden religious architecture also includes chapels, belfries and morgues. The scale of the task is significant, given that presently there are 2,785 items of religious wooden architecture in Poland and six of them (from the C15 and C16) are on the World Heritage List.

The Arson Threat

It is difficult to be precise about the growth in arson globally due to statistical variations, but there is good evidence that in many developed countries arson is a growing problem. The CTIF Centre of Fire Statistics demonstrated that, in 8 selected countries [Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, Japan, USA and UK] between 1993 and 1999, intentional fires accounted for 18 percent of all building and structure fires. This represents a huge level of unwanted and unwelcome activity, given the fact that a significant part of any country’s built environment contains numerous heritage sites (in some major cities like Edinburgh, Venice, and Rome the figure is very high) and that certain property classifications (like religious buildings) are subject to regular attacks of the sort identified earlier. To illustrate the growth trend in the UK, according to the UK Arson Prevention Bureau, the incidence of arson in occupied buildings has steadily increased over the past decade, as shown in the following Table.



Arson is now one of the most serious threats to heritage buildings throughout the world. The reasons for this form of attack vary enormously, from economic fraud to cultural disaffection. The nature of the attack can likewise arise from sophisticated fire raising by criminals using science and technology, to sudden unplanned attacks by vandals using any locally available materials. The impact however, regardless of the initiating event, may be the total loss of all the physical property both of contents and structure. The following real examples illustrate that the target can be a high-profile internationally-known building or a more generalised category of building-type. They serve to illustrate the task being confronted.

Whilst there are many documented causes and solutions to the arson threat, there are also particular circumstances related to heritage buildings that raise the risk presented from intentional attacks. For example, historic structures may

• Contain or be constructed in materials particularly vulnerable to fire, like wood

• Elements of structure will contain voids due to adaptations that spread fire and its products

• Modernisation may hide building services and associated features or structural elements that heighten the risk of undetected initiation or early structural failure

• Transfers and unclear ownership may lead to poor risk management

• Economic and funding priorities sometimes prevent investment in mitigating passive or active systems of fire defence

• Hazardous materials may be present on industrial or military heritage sites

• Criminal activity such as smuggling or theft may give rise to arson to cover the original crime

There are many documented responses to combating arson that suggest there is a strong onous on the heritage community to develop a sustainable and internationally-supported strategy to help preserve the national heritage of each country.

This is especially so when it is realised that within the European Union there are few special requirements placed in law on heritage buildings. A recent study supported by the European Union Community Action Programme in the Field of Civil Protection coordinated by Raddnings Verket, the Swedish Rescue Services Agency, found that no heritage-specific fire safety legislative requirements were in force in Austria, Belgium, Denmark (except a 5 yearly inspection), Finland, Germany (other than a building permit for certain uses), Greece, Sweden, The Netherlands (subject to some heritage and safety controls) and the UK. In Ireland, Italy and Norway, guidance or in Italy’s case technical controls, exist.

The proposal, therefore, is that the Cost Action C17 Working Group 3 should consider extending its investigations into the area of arson reduction and protection. This will require research into national statistics, identification of the national risk profile and subsequent identification of preventative action. Whilst there are cultural and national variations in the risk presented in any approach, there is high value in sharing best practice to help improve sustainability and add intelligence to create an effective response to what is an increasingly alarming threat.


In the earlier section, threats arising from vandals, criminals and activists have been described. Unfortunately, it is now necessary to add to that form of attack the increased threat of extremist action from disaffected groups in society. Prior to 11 September 2001, it was the case that the number of lethal terrorist incidents in Europe had declined, although the total number of incidents rose. The escalation of the terrorist incidents that had occurred in Europe and Eurasia were, in fact, often acts of arson or vandalism. However, terrorism has become an increasingly worrying threat to all those responsible for national icons or places of large public assembly. This, in part, reflects the paradigm shift that occurred in New York when vehicles like aircraft became weapons, instead of buildings being defended against weapons. Major sites that have crowds offer the terrorist anonymity and are internationally recognisable. Frequently, they offer hard construction materials that cause maximum personal damage and lead to economic losses, including tourism. They have become the new targets. Well-known and frequently visited heritage buildings and sites that fall into this category are therefore susceptible. In addition, security measures at higher-risk sites like government centres, can serve to move the terrorist further away from the obvious iconic or transport centres to softer geographically open locations. It is, of course, important to retain a sense of perspective. Lethal events are often infrequent, and in comparison to the routinely accepted loss of life in any country, are of a low order of magnitude. Usually, the risk is simply disruptive, as with left luggage (one example is 2.5 million emergency calls to unattended bags in a 10-year period in a transport environment, with no active explosive devices found). Society, however, demands active consideration of this threat and positive action to reduce both the possible occurrence and mitigate impact. This demands a sensible and systematic review of the likelihood and practical measures. In many areas action taken to reduce prevalent and active life-threatening events such as fire and security, will coincide with action designed to contain this extremist threat. There are many previous examples of this type of attack, especially where intolerance has existed, when individuals over generations have attempted and sometimes succeeded in destroying artefacts or symbols that they consider represent that intolerant burden.

Currently trans-national ideology based upon an Islamic fundamentalist cause that is globally, not geographically, regionalised, together with localised extremism, is seen as the new threat. This, some commentators suggest, is a misunderstanding of a threat that in reality comes from local groups that may share a common ideology, but act independently and in sympathy, without any central direction or control. Personal relationships and sympathetic supporters therefore form the basis of the unstructured network of loose alliances. This is considerably different to the earlier, and in some cases still current, more usual form of threat, in which the perpetrator belonged to an organisation that wanted to find a balance between mass innocent casualties and its political aim. That form of terrorist attack was often characterised by a warning and the terrorist seeking to escape and survive.

The economic cost of mounting a terror attack is low, yet the economic impact can be extremely high. Reducing the risk is also difficult from the perspective of vigilance, since the defender has to be systematically in advance of the terrorist, who needs only one success. This is a problem that some observers say will remain a real issue for some time, with terrorism of this kind expected to last the next 20-30 years.

Again, the practice of risk evaluation supported by sound policy and practice is the key. Co-ordination of best practice, education, investigation, advice, crisis management, business continuity planning, threat monitoring and risk assessment are all required. Technical issues that arise include the threat to people and contamination of the heritage site or workplace, physical violence, and detection of weapons and malicious actions. The identification of specific high-risk sites and event scenarios, like those affecting faith premises as already observed in acts against Muslim and Jewish places of worship, is priority action, since in this threatening environment, physically high levels of protection of all sites is impractical.

Intelligence, and the recognition of connections attributed between causes (as with the desire to see the USA leave Islamic countries or resolve the Palestine issue) are important features to research and understand. Whilst these are simplifications, they do serve to raise the matter as an important concern for those who have a responsibility to protect national heritage.


There is a real and urgent need to evaluate the risk presented at heritage sites from malicious acts of vandalism, criminal attack and local or international terrorism. Many of the issues have common features. There would be a benefit in gathering intelligence and knowledge collectively. That task could be an extension of the current role of the COST Action C17 activities. The proposal would require modest financial support, to initially scope the issue and to prepare a more definitive action programme bid, seeking financial support from the European Union.

Cost Action C17: List of International Fire Incidents in Historic Buildings

1We publish a list of International Fire Incidents in Historic Buildings: Compiled by Ingval Maxwell and published in the Cost C17 proceedings.

Significant losses have occurred to the built heritage, and its contents, through the effects of fire have been experienced world-wide over the years. In the USA, it is estimated that over the period 1980 – 1993 some 30,000 heritage related fires occurred, amounting to a level of loss in the region of $40 million in value. In these properties, only one third had detection apparatus, and less than 10% were fitted with sprinkler protection.

In Canada, with an average of 30 incidents per annum, some 316 museum, art gallery and library fires occurred between 1982 and 1993, creating an estimated loss of almost $17 million. Other incidents, such as that at St George’s

  • Church in Halifax, Nova Scotia revealed the vulnerability of major historic structures to fire. Here, arson by children caused $3 million worth of fire damage in June 1994. In line with other countries, the Canadian authorities are concerned about the level of loss.

Illustrating the scale of this loss, the following list has been compiled from a variety of printed sources, including newspapers, magazines, the web and through personal contacts. Particular attention was paid to compiling as much information as possible over the duration of COST Action C17 – from the beginning of 2003 to the end of 2006.

Pre 2000 Significant Historic Fires in Heritage Properties

1. Alesund, Norway 800 buildings destroyed 23 January 1904 11000 people left homeless, rebuilt in 4 years (Journal of Scottish Architecture ARCA 1 May 1999 p69/71) (Web page 13 March 2002)

2. Empire Theatre, Nicholson Street, Edinburgh 1892 music hall stage and orchestra pit destroyed 9 May 1911. Auditorium survived due to use of innovative safety curtain AHSS Journal Spring 2004 p19 Article by John Knight: “The Edinburgh Empire Fire of 1911”

3. Stadtkirche, Bremgarter, Switzerland 1249. Spire fire during restoration 24 March 1984. Arson E-mail Daniel Rusch, Zurich 190 Oct 2005

4. Proveantgarden, Copenhagen, Denmark February 1992 Stored materials fire

5. Odd Fellow Palace, Copenhagen (1795), Denmark April 1992. Cigarette fire

6. Christianborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark First burnt down 1794 (Rebuilt 1810) Main Palace burnt down1884

7. C hristianborg Palace Church, Copenhagen, Denmark 1826 (Restored 1996) Stray firework, burnt down June 1992 Cost 110 million Dkr (£5m) (Europa Nostra Awards 1998 brochure)

8. Redoutensal, Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria November 1992. Cause unknown. Cost £60m COST Action C17: Built Heritage: Fire Loss to Historic Buildings: Final Report Part 2

9. Lundby Church, Goteborg, Sweden February 1993. Arson

10. Yuma Art Museum, Yuma City, Arizona, USA Replacement cost $2.5 million1993

11. C hurch of Madonna della Grazie, Bellinzona Fire gutted 31 December 1996 KGS PBC PCP Forum 3/2003 p 36 – 43

12. US Treasury Building, Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, USA (1869) Roofing repairs fire/water damage 26 June 1996

13. Altstadt, Junkerngasse 35-43, Berne Switzerland Major fire in historic centre of WHS destroyed 30 January 1997 KGS PBC PCP Forum 3/2003 p 22 – 29

14. St Brandon’s Parish Church, Brancepeth, Durham, England 12th – 15th C Major fire, totally gutted 16 September 1998, Restored February 2004 (£3.4 million) Ecclesiastical and Heritage World Issue 17, February 2004

15. C athedral, Turin, during preparations to show the Turin Shroud, Chapel 1998 Possible electrical fault causing major structural fire damage to drum and cupola (Reconstruction scheme) AJ 20 December 2004

16. 18th C Masonic Lodge, Saffron Walden, Essex, England. 1720. Almost totally destroyed 12 July 1999

17. Pont de la Chapelle Lucerne, Switzerland 1300 AD bridge destroyed 18 August 1993. Approx 30% saved, remainder since reinstated with fitted fire protection. Cost £2.2m

18. Bridgeport Train Depot, Huntsville, USA

1917. Fire gutted almost-complete 3-year $350,000 renovation programme on 11 September 1999. NFPA e-mail details, 10 November 1999.

19. N orwegian Stave Kirks 40 churches destroyed by fire 1992-94. Arson. Prior to 1992 loss rate ran at 1 church per year. (Europa Nostra Newsletter No. 2 / 2000)

20. Kulla of Jashar Pasha, Kosovo Early 19th C, destroyed by ‘local Serbs directed by civilians’ in May 1999 (US ICOMOS Newsletter No. 4 July-August 2000)


1. Tangley House, Hampshire, England Life and house loss, February 2000. Brief details included in article on the Colvin Fire Prevention Trust. (Autumn 2003 edition of Historic House (p22))

2. S t Paul’s Church Deptford, England 1712-30 Major internal fire during works in progress resulting from an electrical failure May 2000 (One month after rehabilitation work started) (Building Design 15 April 2005) (Article on completed project)

3. All Saint’s Church, West Dulwich, England 1892 Electrical fault leading to loss of roof, windows and damage to masonry. £5.9 million refurbishment programme completed 2005. (Museums and Heritage Issue 1 /2005)

4. Lexington Presbyterian Church, Lexington, Virginia, USA 1850 Completely fire destroyed 18 July 2000 as a result of hot-work paint-stripping off the wood. $2.5 million damage. Spire collapse and interior gutted. Web page


1. University of Kentucky Administration Building, USA 1882 Major fire damage to interior 15 May 2001. Archival records partially saved and taken to drying centre in Chicago. Web page

2. Sophieshal, Vienna, Austria Early 20th C fire gutted interior resulting from roofing works. August 2001 E-mail contact August 2001 and WWW details

3. Salem United Methodist on Linden Church, Allentow, USA c1900 Badly damaged resulting from Copper roofing repair works 22 August 2001 E-mail contact 25 August 2001

4. DownTown, Nassau, Bahamas Bay Street Market, c1700 Pompey Museum (part) and British Colonial Hotel destroyed 5 September

5. Sodra Rada historic Church dating from 1310. October 2001 Accidental fire leading to destruction of church decorated with medieval paintings SPAB News Vol. 24 No 2 May 2003

6. S t John’s Anglican Church, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada. 1753 Virtually destroyed 1 November 2001. Halloween arson E-mail contact and web page South Shore Genealogical Society 12 November 2001

7. Peterborough Cathedral, England Severe smoke damage to medieval painted ceiling and organ. Suspected arson 22 November 2001 Web page 23 November 2001

8. C athedral of St John the Devine, New York City, USA Serious roof fire, E-mail contact 18 December 2001

9. S t Ignatius Chapel, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA 1889 Fire gutted burnt out shell: 16 December 2001 National Historic Landmarks Network, Vo. V No. 1 Spring 2002


1. Fairmount Waterworks, Philadelphia, USA 1815 Extent of fire damage unknown no structural damage: 1 January 2002. Completed major $27 million Building refurbishment September 2001 with restaurant due to open Spring 2002 E-mail contact 2 January 2002

2. 61 Bridge Street, Chester Rows, Chester, England from 17th C January 2002 fire in block resulting in 2 historic buildings being seriously fire damaged (Article by Steve Emery, English Heritage) Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal p20 February 2004

3. C inematheque Francaise Archive, Paris, France National Archive of historical Cinema documentation (12,382 storage boxes of items), Bibliotheque du Film, destroyed by fire 22 January 2002 at a storage firm (Recall Intradis), Roye, Near Paris Sight and Sound p24-25 August 2002

4. Quarantine Station isolation hospital, North Head, Sydney, Australia 1832 February 2002 Destroyed following 2nd blaze in weeks. SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

5. C asulon Plantation two-storey Antebellum house, Walton County, Good Hope National Register of Historic Places house, USA 1824 Intense fire 26 March 2002 in Heart-pine structure. Suspected arson E-mail contact 28 March 2002

6. Burakuden Hall, Muko, Japan. Early 15th C wooden shrine. September 2002 Part destroyed SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003


1. C hariot of Glory, the Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia. January 2003 Severe damage in 8 hour fire after being hit by firework SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

2. Dzerzhinsky Naval college, St Petersburg Admiralty Complex, St Petersburg, Russia. 18th C. January 2003 Severe damage in 8 hour fire SPAB News Vol. 24 No 2 May 2003

3. Luneville Chateau, NE France. Baroque mansion. January 2003 Destroyed, suspect electrical fault SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

4. Londonderry, Tilly & Henderson Shirt Factory, Northern Ireland. January 2003 Demolished after a series of fires SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

5. Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Mount Stromlo Observatory, Cotter Road, Weston ACT 2611, Canberra, Australia. Significant fire loss of astronomical observatories 17 January 2003 during major bushfire resulting in:

• Yale-Columbia Dome destroyed

• The Great 50” Melbourne Telescope destroyed

• Workshops destroyed

• The 30” Reynolds Telescope Dome destroyed

• The 74” Dome destroyed

• The Old Uppsala Schmidt Dome destroyed

• Oddie Telescope Dome destroyed

• Laser Range Station destroyed

• Administration Building destroyed

• The Library destroyed

• Directors Residence destroyed

• Tea Room destroyed

• Web page photo record from Bradley Warren


6. W est Side Snyder Town Square, Surry County, Texas, USA 1905 building fire destroyed and collapsed February 2003 (In recent years nearby Newton County Courthouse also badly fire damaged) Web page

7. Brighton West Pier, England 1866. Arson March and May 2003 Part destroyed SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

8. Holme House, Burnley, Lancashire, England from 15th C. April 2003 Severe damage after being targeted by arsonists twice in two weeks SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

9. Glienicke Jagschloss 17thC hunting lodge, Berlin, Germany April 2003 Roof and upper floors destroyed due to hot-work in progress SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

10. N ew Zealand Fire Service Report 15 historic buildings destroyed by fire each year 93% lacking any fire detection systems SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 2 May 2003

11. Pincents Maor Hotel Cruck Barn, Calcot, Berkshire, England. June 2003 15th C barn destroyed in 35 minutes SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 4 November 2003

12. North Carolina State Capitol Building, USA 1840. Near miss fire during hot working on copper roof. Limited damage affecting Old House and Senate Chamber COST C17 web page 18 July 2003

13. Oxney Grange, Peterborough, England August 2003 14th C empty house badly damaged. Suspected arson. SPAB News Vol. 24 No. 4 November 2003

14. Pratapur Temple, Swyambhunath Budhist Shrine, Kathmandu, Nepal 1646. Temple interior and contents destroyed. WH site. The Times 7 August 2003

15. National Motorcycle Museum and Display Areas, Solihull, England (Opened 1984) 600 out of 850 motorcycles destroyed in £8m fire 15 September 2003; 3 of 5 display areas and 2 of 13 conference hall ruined to £6m value. Suspected cigarette end at goods entrance. 12-18 month recovery anticipated. Museums Journal, p9. October 2003

16. Babington House Spa Building, Frome, Somerset, England Grade II listed Fire damaged reception area and roof. Suspected electrical fault 9 October 2003 Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal December 2003

17. Bridges of Madison County, House, USA (Film links) Suspected arson in serial attacks

• Wooden House destroyed 6 October 2003

• Wooden Bridge destroyed 2002

• Wooden Bridge destroyed September 2003

Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal December 2003

18. West Kenzie Street Warehouse, Chicago West Side Historic Park District, USA Warehouse damaged in large fire 9 October 2003 Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal December 2003

19. Babington Hall, Frome, Somerset, England Georgian Grade II listed (Hotel and spa) Suspected electrical fault fire damaged reception area and spa Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal December 2003

20. Thingwall Hall, Liverpool, England 1848 Grade II listed Suspected arson, severe damage to 1st and 2nd Floors 5 November 2003 Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal December 2003

21. National Gallery, London, England Basement storeroom 25% destroyed 7 November 2003. No art works damaged. Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal December 2003

22. Presbyterian Church, Front Street, Exeter, Mass, USA 1845 Furnace explosion leading to loss of timber building 24 November 2003 (Fire Station less than 1 minute away) Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal December 2003

23. The Elm, 9093 Elk Grove Blvd, Sacramento, USA Basement fire in 100 year old wooden building caused by vagrant, extinguished by sprinkler system 16 December 2003 E-mail S Kidd/NFPA 18 December 2003

24. C hrist Church, Ebbw Vale, South Wales Grade II listed Spire badly fire damaged December 2003 Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal p5 February 2004

25. 19th CHay Shed St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life, Cardiff. 1870 (acquired 1977) Grade II listed. Roof and contents destroyed. Arson. BBC News/South East Wales


1. 300 Spring Street, Jefferson, USA Several buildings in city block, including 1880’s building recently renovated at a cost of $1 million, destroyed 11 January 2004 Web page

2. C rown Public House, Sandon, Essex, England 18th C Severe damage to single storey extension following kitchen fire 7 January 2004 Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal p4 February 2004

3. T he Blue Anchor Public House, Aberthaw, South Glamorgan, Wales 600 year-old thatched public house. Severely fire damaged in kitchen chimney fire. 20 February 2004 Fire Prevention Fire Engineers Journal p3 March 2004

4. Kosovo Violence 19 March 2004 E-mail from Gustavo Araoz [] ICOMOS US 19 March 2004

Dear Bureau and Executive Committee, Unfortunately since Wednesday, there have been renewed clashes in Kosovo and again heritage has apparently been also a victim. According to an article I found this morning on Agence France Presse – over 16 churches have already been destroyed – some from medieval times. There have also been attacks on mosques in Serbia-Montenegro – but I do not know whether any of these are historic buildings. I am writing to our colleagues of ‘Cultural heritage without borders’ based in Sweden who have an office in Kosovo and have been working there for years now to get some more information. With best regards Gaia

Extract from article.

‘Wednesday night, Serbian demonstrators burned mosques and other Muslim buildings in the three largest Serbian cities, including the capital of Belgrade. Press releases informed that the violence in Kosovo is spreading to Serbia, where on Thursday, thousands of Serbs blocked access to Novi Sad in the northern region of Voivodine’ ‘Mercredi soir, des manifestants serbes ont brûlé des mosquées et autres bâtiments musulmans dans les trois plus grandes villes de Serbie, dont la capitale Belgrade. Les violences du Kosovo déteignent sur la Serbie, où des milliers de Serbes ont bloqué jeudi soir un grand axe près de Novi Sad, en Voïvodine dans le nord du pays, ont rapporté des agences de presse’

Main article Friday 19 March 2004, 8h09

  • Kosovo: 16 églises serbes détruites, 31 personnes tuées agrandir la photo BELGRADE (AFP) – Sixteen
  • Orthodos Serb monasteries and churches, most of them jewels of medieval architecture, were destroyed in Kosovo since the outbreak of violence Wednesday, announced the Orthodox Church. A previous estimate, released in the afternoon of Thursday, listed fourteen demolished churches. Since then, Albanian extremists have burned the Orthodox churches of Donja Slapasnica and Brnjak. Manifestations against anti-Serbian violence are expected on Friday throughout central Serbia. In Pristina, UN guards and soldiers of the Multinational Forces (Kfor) used tear gas on Thursday to disperse groups of Albanians setting the Church of St Nicholas on fire. According to the Church, all religious buildings in Prizren (Southwest) and its surroundings were burned: the Churches of

• Bogorodika Ljeviska (11th century),

• St George,

• St Geroge Runovis & Saint Spas,

• the Monastery of the Holy Archangel and

• the Episcopal Palace.

Among the other buildings demolished are the churches of:

• St Uros in Urosevac,

• St Nicholas in Kosovo Polje,

• St Catherine in Bresje, St Nichiolas in Belo Polje,

• St John in Pec,

• the Ascension in Djakovica and

• St Nichilas in Gnjilane.

In addition, the church of St Ilija in Vucitrn and the Devic Monastery were also burnt. This information was not contained in the church press release. Since 1999, more than 150 Serb churches and monasteries have been destroyed in Kosovo by the Albanians, According to a UN estimate, 31 have died and 500 wounded in the Kosovo violence since Wednesday. Hundreds of Serbs have been evacuated by the UN Mission in Kosovo (Minuk) and the NATO forces (Kfor). More manifestations are expected …..

5. Central Manezh Exhibition Hall, Red Square, Moscow, Russia Monument to Russia’s victory over Napoleon in 1812. Destroyed March 2004 Moscow City Government allegedly demolishing decaying historic buildings to make way for new safe development. SPAB News Vol. 25 No 2 May 2004

6. Wardington Manor, Oxfordshire, England Grade II. 16thC -1920. Extensive damage to medieval wing. 16 April 2004 SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 26 Number 4 2005

7. Fleece Inn, Bretford, Worcestershire, England 14th C NT owned. Chimney fire spreading to thatched roof and first floor SPAB News Vol. 25 No. 2 May 2004

8. Howfields, Stapleford Tawney, Essex Late 17th C house. Empty since c1980’s. Destroyed by fire in 2003. SPAB News Vol. 25 No. 2 May 2004

9. Anna Amalia Library, Weimar, Germany World Heritage Site. Severe fire damage 2 September 2004, damaging the roof, Rococo Hall (1761-66) and 40,000 books Various press reports September 2004

10. Biedenharn Museum, Riverside Drive, Monroe, USA Arson attack 27 September 2004. Office destroyed with extensive smoke and water damage elsewhere. Conservation DistList Inst 14 October 2004

11. Hafodunos Hall, Llangernyw, North Wales 1861-66 Grade 1 Listed designed by George Gilbert Scott. Badly neglected and due for restoration with enabling development for 90 holiday homes, totally destroyed by fire early October 2004. Suspected arson. AJ 28 October 2004

12. Harbin New Synagogue, Harbin, China 1921 1,233 sq m building for 800 worshipers undergoing restoration prior to opening as museum of Jewish history and culture. Half of newly restored dome destroyed. Fire started by construction workers 11 November 2004. NFPA e-mail 11 November 2004

13. G retzenbach, Switzerland Underground garage fire with roof collapse killing 7 fire-fighters. No sprinkler installation, 27 November 2004 Numerous news agencies. Eurosprinkler e-mail 29 November 2004

14. Ditzingen, Germany Garage fire 25 cars destroyed. 27 November 2004 Eurosprinkler e-mail 29 November 2004

15. L aSalle Bank Building, 135 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, USA 1930’s high rise un-sprinklered building. Fire started on 29th floor and extended to the 30th floor. 6 December 2004 Eurosprinkler e-mail 8 December 2004

16. L aurel Grove Baptist Church, Fairfax County USA. 1884 clapboard church destroyed Washington Post 23 December 2004


1. W eisbaden SCA (Multi-national Paper Co.) Works Fire Station; Germany Fire started in power charger in brigade equipment building resulting in severe damage to equipment and building. Eurosprinkler e-mail 21 January 2005

2. Ulm-Wiblingen Volunteer Fire Station, Germany Short circuit created a roof fire causing 50,000 Euro damage Eurosprinkler e-mail 21 January 2005

3. S t Johannis Church, Gotteingen, Germany The Göttingen fire brigade in Germany reports that fire has destroyed the north tower of the recently renovated St. Johannis church. The fire broke out early on Sunday 23 January 2005 and rapidly spread to the church tower. The fire brigade extinguished the fire in the 72 metre high tower but special cranes had to be brought in to lift off the heavy weathervane before it fell. In April the 14th century church was to celebrate the end of a €7.3 million renovation programme. Fortunately nobody was hurt. A young man and a boy have been arrested and admitted arson. Eurosprinkler e-mail 24 January 2005

4. Allerton Castle, North Yorkshire The BBC reports that on Saturday 22 January 2005 fire broke out at Allerton Castle in North Yorkshire. Over 100 fire-fighters attended but were unable to prevent the collapse of the roof and first floor. Allerton Castle is the most important Gothic Revival stately home in England and is the 18th century home of Prince Frederick, the Duke of York. Eurosprinkler e-mail 24 January 2005

5. 5 storey building, Place Kleber, Central Strasbourg, France Fire started in ground floor Patisserie and spread rapidly up lift shaft to others floors and the roof. 22 February 2005 Eurosprinkler e-mail 7 March 2005

6. Maison Sainte Germaine Home, 15th Arrondissement, Porte de Versailles, Paris, France 2nd floor bedroom fire attended by 100 fire-fighters on 5 April. 1 fatality. Eurosprinkler e-mail 7 April 2005

7. Naksan-sa Buddhist Temple, Yangyang, South Korea. 1,300 year old temple destroyed in forest fire engaging thousands of fire-fighters 200km east of Seoul. The Times 6 April 2005

8. Pierre et Vacances Hotel, Val Thorens, France Unsprinklered hotel totally destroyed after kitchen fire on 12 April 2005. Eurosprinkler e-mail 18 April 2005

9. Paris-Opera Hotel Paris, 9th Arrondissement, Paris, France 22 people killed, 60 injured in major fire on 15 April 2005 in 6 storey building with 1 staircase. Eurospinkler e-mail 15 April 2005

10. Hotel Carnot, Nancy, France 2 people killed in fire in town centre hotel. Eurospinkler e-mail 28 April 2005

11. T ote Building, Catford, London Totally fire gutted 1930’s unique building (just proposed for listing) suspected arson. 19 May 2005 Building design 27 May 2005

12. Rand Club, Johannesburg, South Africa 105 year old building and contents destroyed 16 June 2005. Founded in 1897 by Cecil Rhodes, housed many relics of early days of South Africa’s industrial development. Suspected electrical fault. Scotsman 17 June 2005

13. N ortham Library, Devon, England Total loss of building and 90% books. Fire thought to have started by sun’s rays setting fire to leaflets through action of a hands-free magnifier. The Times 17 June 2005

14. Biblical Art Centre Museum, North Dallas, USA Major fire involving 120 fire-fighters 28 June 2005. Multi-million dollar fire with many works of art lost, included the Miracle at Penticost. Eurosprinkler e-mail 4 July 2005

15. US Museum losses Between 1999 and 2002 some 60 museum fires were reported annually at a combined loss of $1million/ annum. Faulty electrical equipment was considered the main cause. – John Hall Assistant Vice-president for Fire Analysis and Research, NFPA. Eurosprinkler e-mail 4 July 2005

16. S chloss Elmau, Kruen, Bavaria, Germany Major fire destroyed most of 1916 hotel 7 August 2005. Fire started with faulty electric blanket. Damage estimated at millions of Euros Eurosprinkler e-mail 8 August 2005

17. S t Mary’s Lodge, Stoke Newington, London, England c1840 Victorian mansion in Conservation Area. Considerable internal fire damage 17 August 2005. Inconclusive cause. SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 26 Number 4c 2005

18. C ottages, Stanford in the Vale, Oxfordshire, England 17th C listed 6 cottage row thatched roof fire. Low pressure water hindered fire fighting operations SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 27 Number 1 2006

19. Little Choppins, Suffolk, EnglandGrade II listed 15th C timber framed open hall farmhouse suffered thatch roof fire thought to be caused by sparks from wood burning stove. Roof destroyed Summer 2005. SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 27 Number 1 2006

20. M cKinney Cotton Mill, Texas USA Roof fire successfully extinguished by 5 year old sprinkler system in 100 year old cotton mill Texas Courier Gazette 29 August 2005

21. 8 rue du Roi, 3rd Arrondissement, Paris, France 5 storey apartment block accidental fire killed 7 people. Used as a squat by immigrants. Purchased by city authorities and due renovation 29 August 2005 Similar fire occurred 25th August killing 17 people Eurosprinkler e-mail 30 August 2005

22. S outhend Pier, Essex, England 1889 – 1929. 1.3 mile long Victorian Pleasure Pier: 130 feet destroyed by fire. Suspected arson. 9 October 2005 The Scotsman 11 October 2005

23. Aardman Animation Warehouse, Bristol, England Victorian listed warehouse and 30 year history of film production (Wallace and Gromit) destroyed in gutted building. 12 October 2005 The Scotsman 11 October 2005

24. G artenstadt Railway Museum, Nuremberg, Germany 1,500m2 Hall destroyed (roof collapsed) with 24 trains badly damaged or destroyed 16 October 2005. Eurosprinkler e-mail 24 October 2005

25. T he Reluctant Panther Inn & Restaurant, Manchester, Vermont, USA 3 storey 1850’s wooden structure totally destroyed 29 October 2005.

26. S chool fires in the UK – Report in Civic and Public Building Specifier October 2005 p16-17 2,000 schools damaged by fire each year with 70% being caused by arson. Costing £55million/annum (Peaking in 2002 at £97million) Every week a school is lost to fire A school has a 1 in 8 chance of a fire each year 25% of all major fires are in schools 50% of all offenders guilty of arson are aged 15-19 years Half of all school fires start during the day

27. T rinity School, West 91st Street, New York, USA Founded in 1709. Fire established in 2 rooms 13 November 2005 resulting in smoke damage to 200 boxes of paper archives. NY Times 4 December 2005

28. G asthofs Lowen, Oberrohrdorf, Switzerland 200 year old redundant restaurant destroyed as a result of (children) arson: 20 November 2005 E-mail Daniel Rusch, Zurich 22 November 2005

29. S candic Bergen City Hotel, Bergen, Norway Small room fire set by drunken arsonist. 26-27 November 2005. Extinguished by sprinkler system (modern building) Eurosprinkler e-mail 28 November 2005

30. 20 Avenue Mathurin Moreau, 19th Arrondissement, Paris, France Fire in 8 storey apartment building, 10 injured. 2 apartments and a lift destroyed 29 November 2005 Eurosprinkler e-mail 1 December 2005

31. L ord Northbrook’s Country House, Woodlands Hampshire, England 80% roof and 1st Floor, and 50% ground floor destroyed in accidental fire. Severe difficulty in obtaining water due to remote location. 4 December 2005 The Times 5 December 2005

32. Redwood Library and Athenaeum storage facility at Dedham, Massachusetts, USA 2 adjacent buildings to temporary storage facility destroyed by fire and Library archive of 500 Colonial maps and 4,999 17th-18th C books badly water damaged 6 December 2005. NFPA e-mail 6 December 2005

33. C onverted Barn, Kallnach, Berne, Switzerland Converted timber barn into apartments. Suspected candle fire. Building unable to be saved. 12 December 2005 Eurosprinkler e-mail 20 December 2005

34. Hilton Hotel, Central Brussels, Belgium Single room fire on 14th floor controlled by sprinkler. Minor damage. 17 December 2005 Eurosprinkler e-mail 20 December 2005

35. Former Hotel Royal Splendid d’Aix-les-Bains, France Converted 5 storey apartment block of 15 apartments destroyed and may require demolition. 17 December 2005 Eurosprinkler e-mail 20 December 2005

36. Peterhof Summer Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia 19th C Palace badly damaged and gutted during restoration work. No cause identified. 22 December 2005 A J Gallagher & Co e-mail 28 December 2005


1. Pilgrim Baptist Church, 3301 S. Indiana Avenue, Chicago, USA Louis Sullivan 1891 Church (originally a Synagogue) Chicago Landmark destroyed 6 January 2006. Chicago Tribune 7 January 2006

2. 5 storey Apartment building, Canebiere, Central Marseilles, France Major fire from central stairway. 25 injured. Eurosprinkler e-mail 13 January 2006

3. Historic Farm, Reinertonishof, Schonwald (Schwarzwald-Baar-Kreis) Germany 400 year old Hapsburg farm destroyed by arson by 2 youths who cut down tress on access road to hinder access by Fire Brigade 21 January 2006. Damage estimated at Euro millions. Eurosprinkler e-mail 25 January 2006

4. S an Cristobal de la Laguna, Tenerife, Spain 17th C baroque Casa de Salazar, residence of the Bishop of Tenerife. Part of World Heritage Site of la Laguna. Destroyed and neighbouring Diocesan Library and National University of Distance Learning damaged 23 January 2006. Suspected electrical fault. Fire-fighting access hindered by railings in front of building. COST C17 member e-mail 24 January and Eurosprinkler e-mail 25 January 2006

5. Vosshaus, Eutin, Lubech, Germany 18th C home of Rector Johann-Heinrich Voss (now Hotel and Restaurant) Badly damaged with loss of many valuable paintings 29 January 2006. Cause unknown. Damage estimated at Euro millions. Eurosprinkler e-mail 31 January 2006

6. Komsomolskaya Pravda Newspaper Offices, Pressa Complex, Ulitsa Pravdy, Moscow, Russia 1930’s Soviet Brutalist-style offices 80% damaged in $2 million fire. Banned literature library, photo archive and Stalin’s show trials transcripts destroyed in major blaze 14 February 2006. 15 February 2006 The Moscow Times 15 February 2006

7. Tithe Barn, Frindsbury, Rochester, Kent, England 14th C Grade I listed 13-bay barn subjected to second fire (first fire 4 years ago destroyed 4 of the 13 bays) Possible arson 14 February 2006. SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 27 Number 1 2006

8. Honeypot Hill Farm, Suffolk, England Grade II listed early 16th C cottage destroyed by fire thought caused by heat from wood-burning stove. SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 27 Number 1 2006

9. Bonded Warehouse, Quayside, Newcastle, England Listed 19th C warehouse destroyed by fire 24 March 2006. BBC News update 24 March 2006

10. Beaulieu Tide Mill, New Forrest, England Grade II Listed 16th C tide mill recently renovated. 80% roof destroyed. Arson. March 2006. SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 27 Number 2 2006

11. S t Michaels and All Angels Church, Newburn, Newcastle, England Grade I listed 11th C tower and Norman Nave + Chancel. Roof destroyed, interior and Belfry severely damaged. March 2006 SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 27 Number 2 2006

12. C hurches in England and Wales ODPM Arson report to SPAB: 112 incidents in 2004, 148 incidents in 2003, 103 incidents in 2002, 215 incidents in 1994  ODPM Accidental fires report to SPAB;

  • 93 incidents in 2004
  • 74 incidents in 2003
  • 92 incidents in 1999
  • 93 incidents in 1995
  • 40 incidents in 1994

SPAB Cornerstone Vol. 27 Number 2 2006

13. Hotel Central, Rue de Meaux, 19th Arrondissement, Paris, France Fire spread from 2nd to 5th storey, 1 person killed, 1 April 2006 Eurosprinkler e-mail 4 April 2006

14. Thatched Cottage, East Boldre, New Forest, Hampshire, England Single storey cottage severely damaged by fire. No suspicious circumstances. Occupants (Ken Russell) alerted by smoke alarm. 3 April 2006 The Scotsman 4 April 2006

15. Thatched Cottage, Lower Shiplake, Oxfordshire, England £3m newly renovated thatched cottage containing oak beams from one of Nelson’s ships, destroyed by fire 8 April 2006. Cause unknown. Metro 10 April 2006

16. Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, Viking Bay, Broadstairs, England Built 1810 privately owned house, formerly Dickens house and museum. Badly damaged by fire 9 April 2006. BBC News web site 9 April 2006

17. Porvoo Cathedral, Finland 13thC Cathedral roof destroyed and gable wall left unstable following suspected arson attack 29 May 2006 Eurosprinkler e-mail 30 May 2006

18. Flims Old Town, Graubunden, Eastern Switzerland A quarter of the old town – 14 buildings (7 houses and 7 stalls: 1 building listed of historic significance)

– destroyed at estimated value of €10 million (10-15 million Swiss Francs), on 7 June 2006. Cause unknown Eurosprinkler e-mail 9 June 2006

19. Trinity Cathedral, St Petersburg, Russia 1835. Major fire leading to total loss of 80m high dome and cupolas. Work in progress with fire starting on scaffolding 25 August 2006. web posting + e-mail from COST C17 member Miguel Gomez Heras 25 August 2006

20. 6 Burlington Gardens, London, England Formerly Royal Academy Museum of Mankind in adjacent building to the RA. Significant damage to roof of empty building. Cause unknown. 29 August 2006. BBC News web release 30 August 2006

21. E astern Orthodox Church, Kamienica, Bieszczady Region, Poland 1802 wooden church totally destroyed 13 September 2006. Cause unknown COST C17 e-mail from Marian Ornat 16 September 2006

22. Philberts Manoa, East Hanney, Wantage, England 14th C manor house roof badly damaged following chimney fire 5 October 2006. BBC News web release 6 October 2006

23. S hooting Range, Budapest University of Technology and Economy, Budapest, Hungary Ammunition holding rubber wall major fire in University premises in St Gellert Quay No. 1. 3 firemen fatalities and 7 injuries.

Millions of Pounds paid for Art lost in Fire (UK)

2In the evening of 24 May, 2004, a fire broke out in the Momart storage warehouse in London. The warehouse was in a large industrial building that also housed other businesses. The warehouse was sublet from a household moving company. The fire, which continued to smoulder for nearly a day, destroyed almost all of the artworks stored within. As well as works from other collections, items from the Saatchi collection of so-called Britart were lost.

Arson investigators determined that burglars started the fire in an attempt to cover up the theft of consumer electronics from one of the other businesses in the building.

Art industry insiders noted that the insurance value of the works lost in the fire would be many times their initial purchase price, and that a comparable rise could be expected in the market values of the remaining  works by artists whose works were lost.

The company that ran the art storage depot that went up in flames destroying hundreds of pieces of Britart may have paid out secretly tens of millions of pounds in damages to leading artists, collectors and insurance companies.

Art collectors that lost their properties in the blaze, through their lawyers claimed the storage warehouse which caught fire was wholly unsuitable for high-value fine art, had inadequate fire detection and was “a disaster waiting to happen. Estimates at the time of the fire put the losses to artists, collectors, galleries and insurance companies at between £30m and £50m.

Momart’s clients include the National Gallery, Tate Modern, Tate Britain and Buckingham Palace.

Fire at Manezh Exhibition Center in Moscow (Russia)

image from: wikimedia commons
image from: wikimedia commons

On March 14, 2004, a fire broke out in at the Manezh exhibition hall in Moscow. The historic building (built in 1817) has been almost completely destroyed by fire and two firefighters have been killed as the huge roof of the exhibition hall caved in. The fire could have been caused by a powerful ejection of thermal energy created with the help of flammable liquids or pyrotechnic materials, even if it’s very difficult to prove such theory. The giant hall (about 7,500 m2 – 166 meters long and 45 meters wide) with a self-supporting roof was considered a great breakthrough in construction techniques. Originally meant for military exercises, reviews and parades, it later housed exhibitions and was used for public exhibitions.

The fire started at the Manezh and spread across the entire building very quickly. At 21:00 on Sunday, the guards of the exhibition center walked around the building, and none of them smelt smoke. Fourteen minutes later, a traffic police officer reported a large fire in the upper floor of the Manezh.

The attic and the roof of the building were built of wood, and, in principle, they could burn quickly,but it is difficult to set them on fire. The floor of the attic was made of 40mm thick wooden planks and it was protected with fire-resistant materials three years ago, so investigators gave up all the three initial theories – cigarette, short circuit and firework.

Car Museum Suspected Arson

WreckDenghbig’s (North Wales, UK) Cae Dai cars museum has suffered extensive damages after a fire broke out on December 1st, 2009, night in a suspected arson that has damaged a collection of tens of vehicles.
Fire engines attended the fire at the Cae Dai museum after receiving a call at 11.07 pm on Tuesday.
A man that was staying at a caravan on the museum site, was taken to hospital by ambulance as a precautionary measure to be treated for possible smoke inhalation.
Fire and Rescue Service said: “The building suffered extensive damage and it is believed that all the vehicles were destroyed in the fire.”
A caravan situated near the building was also completely destroyed.
Firefighters used two main jets and two sets of breathing apparatus to tackle the fire. An investigation is now being conducted by Police into the cause of the incident, but it is too early to confirm if it was arson.