Inquiries into last year’s fire aboard the historic Cutty Sark on the Thames “had to be made to the standard of a murder investigation” says police inspector Dave Garwood, who announced ther findings to journalists. According to the police report the fire aboard the 19th century three-masted tea clipper was set off by an overheated vacuum cleaner.
Fortunately, less than two per cent of the vessel was destroyed in the blaze which took two hours to extinguish. Cutty Sark is the only surviving example of her class of what is regarded as the ultimate development of the sailing ship, their classic speed making them a precursor to the fast modern containership.
It is believed that a vacuum cleaner accidentally left running over a weekend during restoration work, or overheated electrical wiring triggered the fire.
The vessel is administered by the Cutty Sark Trust and the fire added £18m ($36m) to the cost of the project, which is currently £5.4m short of funds needed.
Lessons? Switch off electrical equipment when not in use and check that it is switched off before leaving the area.