Fire causes heavy damage to British clipper ship | world | Hindustan Times
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Fire causes heavy damage to British clipper ship

world Updated: May 22, 2007 05:34 IST

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A fire caused heavy damage to the clipper ship Cutty Sark on Monday, leaving one of London's proudest maritime relics a blackened hulk.

Firefighters responded to an alarm at 4.45 am (0915 IST) at the ship's dry dock. The fire was out by 7 am (1130 IST) and the cause was under investigation.

"We are treating this as a suspicious incident," said police Inspector Bruce Middlemiss, who added that a number of people were known to be in the area at the time the fire started.

Chris Levett, the chairman of Cutty Sark Enterprises, said half of the ship's planking and many historic artefacts had been taken away during restoration work. He expressed confidence that the vessel could be restored.

"It will be the old ship. The ship has been through many things in its lifetime," Levett told BBC radio.

"This is going to make us even more determined to get this ship back up and running and keep her as original as possible," Levett said.

The ship was the world's only surviving example of an extreme clipper, regarded as the ultimate development of a merchant sail vessel. Most of the original hull had survived since the ship was built for the 19th-century tea trade.

Cutty Sark had been closed to visitors since last year for a USD 50 million renovation.

The ship was used for training naval cadets during World War II, and in 1951 it was moored in London for the Festival of Britain.
Shortly afterward, the ship was acquired by the Cutty Sark Society.