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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Owner's pledge after fire destroys cottage in grounds of Cumbrian castle

The owner of Appleby Castle is devastated after a building in her courtyard was gutted by fire.

Appleby Castle cottage fire photo
Castle owner Sally Nightingale at the scene

The Grade-I listed bailey cottage close to the 12th-century keep was well alight by the time firefighters arrived yesterday morning.

Owner Sally Nightingale learned of the fire when people came rushing up to her to tell her that her castle was on fire. However she stressed that it was not the castle itself but an ancillary building not far from the stone keep known as Caesar’s Tower.

She said: “It definitely wasn’t in the castle. The ancient monument is intact. I’m very anxious that we don’t over-sensationalise what has happened but obviously it’s terrible. It’s shocking but we have to stay calm. It’s incredibly upsetting but it is under control.”

She added: “At the moment I can’t comment on how it happened because I don’t know.

“A member of staff lives in the house but no one was in at the time. The member of staff is safe: he is absolutely fine.

“I’m just trying to get over the shock.”

Mrs Nightingale said that although the fire had been near to the keep, it had been “untouched”. She also praised the work of the police and the firefighters.

“The firefighters were absolutely marvellous. They came on time and stopped it from spreading”, she said.

The fire engine was too large to get through the 17-century gateway to reach the two-storey house in Boroughgate and a hose had to be passed through to douse the flames.

The cause is still being investigated but it is understood that the member of staff who lives in the cottage was not in when the fire took hold at around 10am.

Five fire engines from Appleby, Kirkby Stephen, Shap and two from Penrith attended after they were called out at 10.23am yesterday.

The fire extended to the roof void and two firefighters wearing breathing apparatus on 30ft ladders used small tools to remove roof tiles.

Mrs Nightingale also vowed to restore the fire-damaged building.

She said: “I’m a survivor and I will make sure this castle is living and breathing again.”

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