Saturday, November 14, 2009

Holy smoke! Fire at Union Theological College

Union Theological College, Belfast - fire brigade in attendance

With only four weeks until the completion of the building work, this morning's fires at Union Theological College must be a real blow to their plans to expand the training they offer. UTC is the main training facility for Presbyterian ministers, but also serves theology students of all dominations studying at Queen's University. Increasingly, it also offers day and evening Christian training and youth work courses to lay people.

UTV and BBC news reports point to the fire service attending a blaze on the first floor around 2.30am, before returning at 7am to deal with a much larger and more sustained blaze. Interviews with college staff and the management committee talk of their "devastation" at the damage done by the fire, and their relief that there was no loss of life. While one wing has been guttted, the majority of the rest of the building is believed to be unharmed.

Union Theological College, Belfast - fire brigade platform lifting fire men onto the scaffolding and what remains of the roofThe BBC's online news article explains that

"Two firefighters were injured by molten metal inside the premises and were given first aid at the scene. The fire is being treated as suspicious."

Union Theological College, Belfast - fire brigade in attendance

Historically, from 1921 until 1932, the newly formed Parliament of Northern Ireland met in the building's Gamble Library while Stormont was being constructed.


AM said...

its the rapture

Timothy Belmont said...

Very sorry to hear about the fire at a building of such historical importance.

Confident that it will eventually be restored again, after insurance assessors etc can agree to culpability or whatever.


AM said...

Tim, don't ruin it all. Its the only good news we got yesterday

AM said...

On a more serious note, it is a significant loss to the cultural life of the city and wider afield. I was at a book launch there a few years ago - the one and only time I was on the premises. Brian Kennaway's book on the Orange Order was having the bottle cracked against its side and the place was bunged out. So, events like that always have a special place in the memory. I suppose it brings the sense of sadness that occured when the Linenhall Library was firebombed back in the 90s.

Alan in Belfast said...

Hopefully when they get a good look inside the main building, they'll not discover any major damage to the chapel or library. By the sounds of it, some smoke did get in.

AM said...

Hope you are right Alan, but with 8 fire engines in attendance I would not be so hopeful.

Niall said...

It'll maybe provide an opportunity for the Assembly debate a couple of years ago about "worshipping buildings" to be had again :-)

It's a real shame, and I seriously hope that if malicious the perpetrators are brought to justice swiftly. Hope too that there's not too much hand-wringing going on about the potential loss of (part of) a beautiful building!

Anonymous said...

That'll teach them to use the Burning Bush as a logo.

Anonymous said...

Northern Ireland Fire Service is at it again endangering the lives of their men Did they not know the layout of the building having been there at 2.30am on the same morning - what were they thinking tasking these 2 men inside when there was no risk to life. The similarities to that fateful night at the Gorteen Hotel Limavady, Halloween 2003 are scary. We could have woke up on Saturday morning to the news of 2 more unnecessary firefighter fatalities Radical Reforms are needed. I am interested to see how mr Lammey handles this!

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