FIRE chiefs are following a “significant lead” on the likely cause of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory blaze earlier this year.
Shetland group manager Matt Mason, however, told members of the isles’ community safety and resilience board on Wednesday that the details could not be publicly be revealed yet due to the ongoing insurance process.
The world-renowned building burnt down in March and firefighters from the Shetland mainland were transported by coastguard helicopter and lifeboat to support the local crew on the remote island.
The blaze, which started in the roof area, spread so quickly that there was little firefighters could do to stop the building being destroyed. No injuries were sustained in the fire.
Mason was questioned on the fire by councillors at the meeting on Wednesday, with south mainland member Allison Duncan asking about a possible cause after praising the “brave” fire crews.
“We are following a significant lead on a probable cause,” the fire chief replied.
Mason added that two reviews are now in place after the incident, one relating to the fire service’s island mobilisation plan and one on the fire coverage in Fair Isle.
Part of the latter review, he said, relates to how there is one fire appliance on the island which is also used for covering planes taking off and landing at the airstrip.
Board chairman Alastair Cooper reiterated the fragility of emergency services responding to incidents on Shetland’s islands, saying it is something that deserves attention.
“It’s the first major incident we have had on an offshore island,” he said.
Mason added that if the observatory fire took place on the mainland then it probably would have had some 12 to 14 fire appliances in attendance.
He said he thought the building would have still burned down if new appliances currently in use in Bressay and Bixter which have technology to cut through concrete and metal were on scene in Fair Isle.
Become a supporter of Shetland News
Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.
Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has over 500 supporters who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.
Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -
- Bring you the headlines as they happen;
- Stay editorially independent;
- Give a voice to the community;
- Grow site traffic further;
- Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.
If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.
Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.Support Shetland News