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Burning mould caused jubilee fire

Buckingham Palace was evacuated for the first time since World War II
Buckingham Palace was evacuated for the first time since World War II  

LONDON, England -- A fire that broke out in Buckingham Palace during celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee was caused by an electric heater treating dry rot mould, police said on Wednesday.

With smoke billowing from the palace's roof, the building was briefly evacuated but suffered little damage after the fire broke out in the west wing the night before a gala pop concert in the palace grounds.

At first it had been feared royal treasures could have been lost, as in the disastrous Windsor Castle fire of 1992.

Britain's Scotland Yard said in a statement on Wednesday: "A joint investigation by London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police has concluded the Buckingham Palace fire on June 2 was accidental.

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"The cause of the fire was found to be ignition of rot mould which caught fire in the drying out process during rot treatment."

The palace said there was some water damage to a plaster ceiling and a glass ceiling and two paintings had been taken away for closer examination.

Nobody was injured by the fire -- technicians and musicians rehearsing for the concert were herded away from the building -- and no members of the royal family were in the palace at the time.

The fire spurred the first evacuation of Buckingham Palace -- the official London residence of Britain's sovereigns since 1837 -- since World War II.

But the queen's jubilee celebrations including the pop concert at Buckingham Palace went on to be a huge success, drawing crowds of millions of people. (Special report)

At the time of the fire, rock star Ozzy Osbourne had just finished rehearsing outside, and among those evacuated from the area around the palace included the musicians Phil Collins, Eric Clapton and Queen guitarist Brian May.




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