Staff praised for ‘saving the day’ after fire at Northumberland castle

Chillingham Castle.
Chillingham Castle.

Quick-thinking staff stopped a chimney fire at Chillingham Castle from escalating into a ‘horrendous’ incident, its owner has claimed.

Sir Humphry Wakefield has praised his team for their response to the blaze, which was ‘bellowing like a jet engine’, on Saturday night.

The fire erupted in the medieval Minstrel’s Hall while a ghost tour was taking place at the popular tourist attraction, which is closed for winter.

But staff reacted quickly to the incident by evacuating the castle, including those staying in its apartments, and tackling the flames. Nobody was injured and no damage was done.

Sir Humphry, who was not at the castle on Saturday, said: “I am very proud of the quick-thinking and quick actions by the staff and also the quick response of the fire crews who attended the scene.

“The castle manager, David Mills, heard a roaring sound like a jet engine and our ghost guide manager, Graham Burney, saw sparks flying out of the chimney.

“The fire alarm went off. They went to the Minstrel’s Hall, armed with the correct equipment, and they put the fire out.

“Everything worked to the book and went most perfectly to order and thank God it was dealt with, or we would have had a horrifying fire.

“It was already severe and was bellowing like a jet engine.

“David and Graham were the heroes of the day really.

“They addressed the situation calmly and firmly. They saved the day really.”

Sir Humphry said it was quite remarkable that the fire did not cause any damage and added that the chimney will be inspected carefully.

He told the Gazette: “We have learnt some lessons from this incident.

“The first is that we need to clean the chimneys twice a week.

“The second is that you need to follow the health and safety notes and fire regulations carefully. This was done on Saturday night and I am glad of it.”