Breaking: Major fire hits Fry Building renovations


Affected students may be entitled to extenuating circumstances after a major fire affected the historic Fry Building on Woodland Road today.

Avon Fire and Rescue confirmed at 19:47 that the fire had been extinguished and that nobody had been hurt in the blaze. Wills library was evacuated around 17.00, expected to reopen Monday, and Woodland Road and Queens Road are also closed off.

The Grade II listed Fry Building, situated on Woodland Road behind the Wills Memorial Building, has been undergoing building work as part of a £33m investment. The building was being renovated to be turned into the new University Maths building and the work was due to be completed in Spring 2018.

Avon Fire and Rescue posted an update about the fire and said it sent crews from 8 stations across Bristol alongside helicopters to provide light. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

'Firefighters from six fire engines, two turntable ladders and support vehicles are working to tackle the fire which involves the top floor of the building,' the statement says.

As the Fry building was covered in scaffolding, a firefighter at the scene told Epigram it added to the difficulty in fighting the blaze.

The university have told Epigram that the building was completely empty when the fire broke out due to the building work and everyone has been accounted for. Woodland Road and Queens Road have been cordoned off with police blocking entrances.

Epigram / Video credit: Fred Sallabank

Will Marsh, Head of Media at the University, said; 'The fire is in the Fry Building, our maths building which was undergoing a refurbishment and was due to open later this year, in spring time.

'We believe no-one was inside at the time, but it is still very sad news.'

Epigram's Luke Unger was one of the first on the scene and said: 'The fire service and the security services were pretty efficient at controlling the crowds but there were a fair few university students climbing up on university buildings to get a better look.

'Considering there were 8 fire engines but only 3 were used it seems like they were preparing for the worst.'

Megan Reynolds, Third Year Aerospace, told Epigram: 'I was inside Wills Memorial Building library and I smelt a load of burning first then a few seconds later the fire alarm went off and we were all told to evacuate. When I walked outside the roads were filled with thick smoke.'

Students reported to be able to see the smoke from their residences at the top of Whiteladies Road, and there are even reports of smoke being seen from the City Centre.

Hannah Coles, a Second Year student said: 'I was at the traffic lights on the triangle and saw an orange sky full of smoke behind Wills Memorial, apparently it has been going on since 5'.

Epigram are live at the scene

Student Catarina Oliveira was evacuated from the Wills Memorial Building and said she 'could only see smoke' during the evacuation.

Judith Squires, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University tweeted: 'Sad news there has been a fire in the Fry Building. Thankfully no reported injuries. Huge thanks to the fire brigade for dealing with the blaze so swiftly.'

It is unclear how the fire might affect scheduled exams starting in two days, although it has been suggested on the University of Bristol twitter that affected students may be able to claim extenuating circumstances.

Epigram are live at the scene

The university has tweeted that Wills Memorial Library will be closed tomorrow (Sunday 7th January). Students who left belongings in the library are able to meet security staff and be guided up two at a time to collect them.

It is not yet known what caused the fire and the university has promised to collaborate with Avon Fire and Rescue to investigate.

Featured image Epigram / Jamie Fendt

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Alex Boulton

Editor in Chief 2017-18, Online Style Editor 2016-17. History student.