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Last Updated: Monday May 21 2007 13:47 GMT

Fire devastates Cutty Sark ship

The Cutty Sark on fire

The Cutty Sark ship, one of London's most popular tourist attractions, has been devastated by a fire, which police think may have been started on purpose.

More than 40 firefighters were called to the 138-year-old tea clipper ship in Greenwich early on Monday morning.

The ship had recently been closed to visitors so improvements costing 25 million could be carried out.

A spokesman for the London fire service said the whole ship was affected by the massive fire but nobody was hurt.

Cutty Sark facts
The Cutty Sark is the last tea clipper ship in the world
The ship was considered modern in its day because it had toilets on board!
More than 15m people have visited the ship since it's been at Greenwich
The ship had 32,000 sq ft of canvas sails - the same size as 11 tennis courts!
In 1885, it made a record-breaking wind-powered journey from Australia to England in just 72 days.

Police don't know what caused the fire yet, but said they were treating it as suspicious. That means the fire may have been started on purpose rather than by accident.

Chris Livett, from the group which looks after the ship, said the fire was a significant setback but they were determined to put the ship back together again.

'Not dead yet'

He said the decks could not be saved but the damage didn't appear as bad as first feared.

Cutty Sark
This is what the Cutty Sark looked like before the fire

Half the planking, as well as all the old artefacts on board, escaped damage as they had been removed while the refurbishment work was under way.

He added: "She's been through storms and hurricanes. She's been battling all her life. She's not dead yet, far from it."

The Cutty Sark was used to carry tea around the world in the 19th century. It now sits at a dry dock at Greenwich as a living museum.

Areas affected



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