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Last Updated: Monday, 31 October 2005, 19:30 GMT
University vows to rebuild centre
Fire at Southampton University
The fire started in the early hours of Sunday
The vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton has pledged to rebuild a leading computer science research unit which was destroyed by a massive fire.

Gas canisters exploded inside the Mountbatten building on Salisbury Road, Highfield, which was engulfed by a 100ft plume of smoke on Sunday morning.

No-one was hurt but the building, which housed valuable research, was gutted.

Vice-chancellor professor Bill Wakeham said replacing the centre and the equipment would cost about 50m.

The building housed research laboratories and offices for the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), and a microelectronics fabrication facility.

We have been inundated with offers of practical help and support from around the country and for that we are extremely grateful
Professor Wendy Hall

Professor Wakeham said: "This is a huge blow to the individuals who have lost work in this fire, and to the university and the country.

"This research facility and the researchers who use it are recognised as among the best in the world.

"We are committed to rebuilding and out of these tragic events will emerge something bigger and better."

He said the loss of the facility would affect primarily postgraduate students and that they would be talking to the students individually about their work.

Professor Wendy Hall, head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, said it was an extremely difficult time for both staff and students and that it could take some before they would have the complete picture of the situation.

Your images of the blaze

"In the meantime we are asking people to be patient and to bear with us, despite the difficulties," she said.

"We have been inundated with offers of practical help and support from around the country and for that we are extremely grateful."

John Lauwerys, secretary and registrar at the university, praised the emergency services for the way they dealt with the fire.

He said: "The university is very appreciative of the professionalism and skill of all the emergency services, who responded so quickly and effectively, preventing the fire spreading to adjacent buildings."

Police forensics officers and fire investigators are continuing to look for the cause of the fire which, at this stage, is not thought to be suspicious.

Fire destroys top research centre
31 Oct 05 |  Hampshire

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