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Shot tower fire in Chester involved burning electrical cable

Crews are still on the scene at the Leadworks securing area

An electrical cable supplying mobile phone transmitters is believed to have ignited a blaze at the top of one of Chester's most historic monuments.

But it is not yet known if the fire at the 18th century Shot Tower off Leadworks Lane in Boughton yesterday, (Tuesday December 22) was caused deliberately or through an electrical fault.

Smoke originally started pouring out of the building at around 2.23pm , but it took crews more than seven hours to fully put out the blaze. They stayed at the scene all night to ensure there were no further issues and remain there this morning where they are working to secure the area.

A building control inspector from Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) was also on scene and has confirmed the structure is now safe.

A cable supplying mobile phone transmitters is believed to have ignited the Shot Tower blaze

There has been speculation on social media about vagrants living on the site and officials say there is evidence of a break in but it is unclear if people had been residing there at the time of the blaze.

Related : A potted history of the Shot Tower

Roads including the City Road junction with Queen's Road and the Shot Tower Close end of City Road had to be closed during the incident, and some workers at Lloyd's Bank were told to move their cars from the car park.

Crew manager Matt Davies told The Chronicle from the scene that cables powering the antenna for O2 had been burnt by the fire but at this stage they couldn't confirm whether this was down to an electrical problem or by human intervention.

He said: "With it being a heritage site we have been here all night to make 100% sure this fire was out properly out and didn't spark up again. The building is generally structurally safe however. We tackled the fire from above, just through the top window."

The 168-ft tall Grade II listed tower has dominated Chester's skyline for more than 200 years as the city's highest structure.

David Holmes
Firefighters have been monitoring the lead shot tower at Boughton the morning after the fire in case it sparks back into life.

The lead works were established in the late 18th century to manufacture shot for British muskets during the Napoleonic Wars and shot manufacture continued on the site until 1986.

However, they officially closed in 2001 when lead engineering specialists Calder relocated to Jupiter Drive on Chester West Employment Park.

Last night Cestrians took to social media to express their views about the the iconic tower catching fire.

Jane Lloyd wrote on Facebook: "It's an eyesore. Try living right next to it. I am a great lover of culture and our history but 10 years this has been like this. There are pigeons, tramps, druggies and rats all in this building I for one wish it had burned down because no one is taking responsibility for it or doing anything positive with it. I know because I live right next door to it."

Sandra Ollerhead said: "Looks like it is all in the favour of the developers!! Has been a battle raging over the future of the shot tower for years! So sad if it has to go now! Such a unique landmark. I grew up opposite the Lead Works, the shot tower is part of my childhood!!"

A Cheshire Fire and Rescue spokesperson said they could offer no more information about this or any potential causes of the blaze at this stage, but confirmed an investigation will be launched.

John Maley, a spokesman for 02 who operate the affected mast on top of the tower, said: "Engineers have been to the site which is cordoned off by the fire brigade. The mast has been switched off as a safety precaution. Other sites in the surrounding area are picking up service for customers to keep any interruption to their signal at a minimum. We are liaising with the landlords and as soon as we are able to gain access, we can determine if there’s any damage to our equipment."



David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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