Sunday 25 February 2024
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Nottingham

County Hall fire thought to have started from an electrical fault in the ceiling

The councillor whose office went up in flames before a fire tore through parts of County Hall has revealed the incident was caused by a suspected electrical failure in his office ceiling.

Councillor Neil Clarke (Con), Nottinghamshire County Council cabinet member for transport and environment, saw the fire completely destroy his office on Thursday (July 28) before spreading to three other floors of the building.

Today he revealed he lost personal items, including computers and files, in the blaze which he described as “genuinely difficult” to explain.

Council workers and councillors were evacuated from the West Bridgford building just before noon as the fire alarm sounded, with 12 pumps sent from Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire fire services.

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service says nobody was injured in the incident and revealed the building suffered fire, smoke and water damage.

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The blaze started within the corridors of offices used by the ruling Conservative group, on the first floor of the building, before spreading to the second, third and fourth floors.

Cllr Clarke’s office bore the brunt of the blaze, although he has confirmed several other councillors’ rooms were damaged “to varying degrees”.

He said: “It’s genuinely difficult to be able to describe.

“We were in meetings in another part of the building and then the fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate.

“It was my office where it started. Apparently – and it is yet to be finally confirmed – it looks like it was an electrical failure in the ceiling void.

“It is pretty much burnt out. I’ve lost quite a lot of personal stuff, computers and files, and there’s smoke damage to some of the other offices to varying degrees across the corridor.

“It’s quite expensive and it’s going to be a major job to get it right.”

Speaking following the fire, council leader Ben Bradley said the ruling Conservative Group will now need to find a new base for their offices while repair works take place.

He believes councillors will not be allowed back into their corridor for “quite some time”.

However, the council confirmed on Monday that County Hall has now been handed back to the authority from the emergency services.

A clean-up operation is underway and staff continue to be told to either work from home or from alternative council buildings until this work is complete.

The council is also experiencing what it describes as “intermittent issues” with its IT systems, with customer service lines periodically down and its website experiencing difficulties on Tuesday.

“We are working hard to fix these issues as soon as possible,” said a spokesperson for the council.

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