Nearly 100 Firefighters Put Out a Devastating Fire at the Center for Fine Arts in Brussels

No artworks were damaged during the incident, the museum has confirmed.

Smoke billowing from Bozar. Courtesy of Pascal Smet, via Twitter.

The Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, also known as Bozar, has suffered significant structural damage after a fire broke out on January 18. 

Nearly 100 firefighters were called to the scene Monday afternoon following reports of smoke plumes billowing from the museum’s roof. The fire was contained by 9:30 pm.

Where or how the fire began is currently unknown. Most of the initial destruction was contained to the roof. However, the performing arts space below, Henry Le Boeuf Hall, suffered significant water damage from the rescue effort and subsequent rain.

Exhibition spaces near the hall were also affected, but to what degree remains a question as the extent of the destruction is still being investigated. Representatives from the institution did not immediately respond to Artnet News’s request for comment, but told the Brussels-based news outlet Bruzz that no artworks were damaged. 

“We were able to remove all artworks and instruments from the halls on time,” Bozar director Paul Dujardin told the publication, explaining that the hall’s prized musical organ, which had just been restored, suffered the most significant damage.

A representative from the museum added that a multimedia exhibition on dance and contemporary art had just been deinstalled days before the gallery it occupied was flooded.

The institution is closed Mondays, so evacuation was not required. Nobody is believed to have been hurt in the incident. One emergency responder was taken to the hospital after the recovery effort, but has since been released.

As the fire department left the scene, workers came to cover the roof with tarps and begin removing water. “Moisture seeps through slowly, so the water damage will show itself over the next few days,” a spokesperson for the fire department told Bruzz.

“Our people are on site to make the necessary observations,” a representative from the Brussels building agency told the newspaper. “There has already been a meeting this morning with the fire brigade and Bozar to measure the impact of the damage on the Henry Le Boeuf Hall and the exhibition areas. But above all, to take the first, necessary measures to prevent further water damage.”

Bozar, which celebrates its centenary next year, will be closed for at least a week as the investigation continues.

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