‘Magnificent architecture lost’

2009-05-15 00:00

ONLY wet streets and a burnt piece of timber lying by the red corrugated fence sealing off the historic Colonial Building from the street, hinted at Friday’ inferno when The Witness visited the site this weekend.

Not a single passer-by failed to sneak a peek at the ruins of the Colonial Building.

Construction on the site continued at the rear of the monument, which was not as badly affected by the fire; at the front entrance, two firemen stood talking about the blaze.

Although they wouldn’t comment on the fire, they said emergency services worked until the early hours of Saturday morning damping down the site.

One added that they returned a few hours before to check that the fire didn’t re-ignite.

A sub-contractor, John Hall, said close to three months of renovation work by his company has been destroyed in the fire.

“And the worst part is that the majority of our work was meant to be done on the front section where I’d say that two-thirds of it is destroyed,” he said, “and that means that we have no work for three more months — but we’ll see.”

Hall said he hopes he will be reimbursed for the work all ready done. “Thankfully, a lot of the material we had on site was saved,” he added.

“Nearly the entire structure is made out of timber,” said another subcontractor who asked not to be named, “and the timber is over 108 years old. It was very dry — perfect firewood — so the fire spread very quickly.”

From the street, one could see just how quickly and how far the fire had spread with windows shattered on all floors.

From the roof of the building across the street one could see how the fire had engulfed both the middle and left dome on the roof of the historic landmark. The smoke stained the walls of nearly all the adjacent rooms black.

“I think that people are seeing this fire as more dramatic than it actually is in financial terms,” said the architect in charge of the renovation project, Nick Grice. “What is a pity is that the most magnificent part of the building in terms of architecture was destroyed.”

He said that what needs to be done to restore the burnt part of the building would be decided in a meeting today.

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