The Bristol University fire that tore through the roof of a historic building was caused by refurbishment works taking place earlier in the day, the fire service has said.

Around 50 firefighters from the Avon Fire and Rescue Service tackled the blaze in the Grade II listed Fry Building on Saturday 6th Jan, with study areas being evacuated, although exams planned for Monday went ahead as scheduled.

Fire investigators published their findings just before 4pm on Monday, January 8.

Group manager Steve Quinton, stated: “We know that refurbishment works were being carried out in the roof on Saturday afternoon which we believed has led to the accidental fire starting. In any fire investigation we consider and then rule out all possible causes to arrive at the most likely cause. The extent of the damage at Fry Building means we will never be able to identify exactly where the fire started but we are satisfied it started accidentally as a result of the works taking place that day.

Although the damage was extensive I’d like to recognise our fire control staff and firefighters whose actions certainly prevented more damage. We had a crew at the scene six minutes after we received the first 999 who immediately put in place plans to tackle the fire and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the building.

Firefighters spent around three hours extinguishing the fire and working to prevent the spread beyond the roof to the other historic university buildings surrounding the structure.

The Fry Building was part way through a £33million refurbishment being carried out by contractors Balfour Beatty and due to be finished in summer 2018. It is currently unknown whether the fire will delay its scheduled completion.

A University of Bristol spokesperson said “Discussions are ongoing with the contractor Balfour Beatty and insurers to assess the extent of the damage and next steps in order to get the project back on track”. – University of Bristol The contractor declined to comment on the cause of the fire, beyond stating that their own “comprehensive investigation” was underway and that it would be inappropriate to comment further.

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