Police and arson investigators believe that a fire that heavily damaged Norway’s Ringve Museum in Trondheim was caused by weed-burning work carried out Monday morning, just before the blaze ignited.
A propane gas unit used to burn weeds outside the historic museum building likely set the building itself on fire, police suggested in a preliminary conclusion after technicians probed the area both Tuesday and Wednesday.
Police have studied video from surveillance cameras of the grounds and conducted interviews with 10 people so far, the officer on duty at the Sør-Trøndelag Police District told state broadcaster NRK Wednesday afternoon. More are likely to be questioned after the technical examination of the scene is completed.
“Now we have especially one employee who’s having a very hard time right now, and who we must take good care of,” museum director Ivar Roger Hansen said at a press conference Wednesday evening. “For us, this has been a tragic event, caused by unfortunate methods for removing weeds. In this case, there was an unfortunate evaluation (of burning weeds) in terms of the distance from building walls and the low height of its foundation.”
The fire that resulted from the “warm work” carried out too close to the museum building was contained to two rooms in the western portion of the museum’s main building. In addition to the destruction of two historical musical instruments, the historic building where they were on display suffered heavy smoke and water damage plus that inflicted by firefighters working to control the fire.
Arson seems to have been ruled out, along with electrical malfunction as a cause of the blaze, according to a police press release. Museum officials said they were very glad they had invested in sprinkler systems that functioned as they should.
“The system we installed (in 2009) was mainly designed to fight fires that began inside the building,” said Suzette Paasche, chief executive of the Museums of Sør Trøndelag. “In this situation we had an unfortunate situation, since this fire began outdoors.”