Fire engulfs Riga Castle

  • 2013-06-24
  • From wire reports

Latvia’s state property management company Valsts nekustamie ipasumi board chairwoman Baiba Strautmane confirmed to Latvian Radio on June 22 that insurers have given the green-light to begin rescue work at Riga Castle, reports LETA. She said that the specialists from insurer Baltijas apdrosinasanas nams looked over the fire damage at the castle and gave authorization for rescue work to begin.

She said that the first work to be carried out will be to gather and carry out burnt items, as well as items that are soaked, as well as preserve items that can still be restored or rescued.

Furthermore, solutions could be decided on next week for a temporary roof. Strautmane emphasized that at this moment, constructing a temporary roof could cause even more damage, thus this operation must be carefully planned.
Strautmane added that it is clear the castle’s restoration and reconstruction work will have to be altered, as new solutions will have to be found. She said that restoration and reconstruction work will now take longer than previously expected, and that it is not likely the Presidential Chancery will be able to move back into the castle in 2015.

Culture Minister Zaneta Jaunzeme-Grende told the press on June 21 that the fire at Riga Castle has not caused irreversible damage to the castle’s museum collection. Jaunzeme-Grende said that the Latvian National History Museum, which is located in the castle and holds about one million valuable items, had about 40,000 items damaged, but that this damage “is not irreversible.” She also added that no items from the Latvian National Art Museum’s collection were damaged.

During a press briefing on June 21, State Fire and Rescue Service Chief Oskars Abolins said that the fire was initially reported by a passerby, who saw smoke coming from the castle’s roof.

The SFRS chief said that the priority of firefighters when attempting to extinguish the fire was to rescue the castle’s museum collection. He said that flames did not reach the area where the museum items were located, but that some water damage is possible.

It is still too early to talk about the potential causes of the blaze. All versions are currently being considered, including arson, Interior Ministry State Secretary Ilze Petersone-Godmane confirmed.