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9 July  
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1984: Historic York Minster engulfed by flames
A massive fire has devastated large parts of York Minster causing an estimated � damage.

Shortly after 0200 BST the alarm was raised and 150 fire-fighters from across north Yorkshire spent two hours bringing the blaze under control.

The fire was concentrated in the 13th Century South Transept and left its roof destroyed.

The cause of the fire is unclear, but early suggestions are that the medieval cathedral was struck by lightning.

Staff braved heavy smoke and flames to salvage the Minster's priceless artefacts while the building was still ablaze.

There's a certain obvious poignancy which makes one a bit lost for words
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie
The Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie has praised rescue efforts and the good will of people who have come forward to offer help and money.

He was at the scene this morning, after giving a service at the Minster yesterday, he said: "there's a certain obvious poignancy which makes one a bit lost for words, immediate reactions and slick comments."

There are fears that the 16th Century stained glass rose window has been badly damaged but experts are optimistic that it can be repaired.

Fire investigators estimate that repair bills will total �, but the government has already pledged assistance.

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Photo of the damaged wing of York Minster
The 13th Century South Transept of the cathedral is badly damaged

York Minster is expected to be repaired


In Context
Explanations ranged from UFOs to divine retribution, but North Yorkshire Fire Brigade's report to the Home Office confirmed that lightning was the most likely cause.

There was also criticism that smoke detectors had been set too low in the roof to provide early warning of the fire. Afterwards �0,000 was spent on installing modern fire alarms.

After much debate, the South Transept roof was rebuilt with a hand carved wooden replica and the cracked glass of the rose window was painstakingly restored with additional reinforcement.

Six of the transept ceiling bosses were designed by the winners of a competition run by the BBC children's programme, Blue Peter.

Hundreds of people gave their support, which ranged from cash donations to oak trees.

It took four years to complete repairs - costing �25m - and the Minster was finally re-dedicated in a service attended by the Queen in November 1988.

Stories From 9 Jul


 
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