Councillor reveals large County Hall fire was started by suspected electrical failure in office ceiling

The Nottinghamshire county councillor whose office went up in flames before a fire tore through parts of County Hall has revealed the incident was caused by a suspected electrical failure in his office ceiling.

By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 10:05 am

Coun Neil Clarke (Con), cabinet member for transport and environment, saw the fire completely destroy his office on July 28 before spreading to three other floors of the building.

And he revealed he lost personal items, including computers and files, in the blaze which he described as ‘genuinely difficult’ to explain.

Council workers and councillors were evacuated from the building just before noon as the fire alarm sounded, with 12 pumps sent from Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire fire services.

Coun Neil Clarke believes an electrical fault in his office ceiling was the trigger point for the fire

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service says nobody was injured in the incident and revealed the building suffered fire, smoke and water damage.

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The blaze started within the corridors of offices used by the ruling Conservative group, on the first floor of the building, before spreading to the second, third and fourth floors.

Coun Clarke’s office bore the brunt of the blaze, although he has confirmed several other councillors’ rooms were damaged ‘to varying degrees’.

The burnt out remains of Coun Clarke's office window

Coun Clarke said: “It’s genuinely difficult to be able to describe.

“We were in meetings in another part of the building and then the fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate.

“It was my office where it started.

"Apparently – and it is yet to be finally confirmed – it looks like it was an electrical failure in the ceiling void.

“It (my office) is pretty much burnt out, I’ve lost quite a lot of personal stuff, computers and files, and there’s smoke damage to some of the other offices to varying degrees across the corridor.

“It’s quite expensive and it’s going to be a major job to get it right.”

Council leader Coun Ben Bradley MP (Con) said the ruling Conservative Group will now need to find a new base for their offices while repair works take place.

He believes councillors will not be allowed back into their corridor for ‘quite some time’.

County Hall has now been handed back to the authority from the emergency services.

A clean-up operation is underway and staff continue to be told to either work from home or from alternative council buildings until this work is complete.