A fire at Buckingham Palace on the eve of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee weekend celebrations was caused by an electric heater brought in to tackle dry rot, emergency services said today.
The blaze, on June 2, broke out above the East Gallery in the west wing of the monarch’s London residence as performers rehearsed for the Party at the Palace pop concert.
An investigation carried out by London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police has ruled out foul play and found that the fire started accidentally.
Officials said in a joint statement: "The cause of the fire was found to be the ignition of rot mould which caught fire in the drying out process during dry rot treatment."
Smoke billowing from a glass roof near the Palace ballroom caused pop stars including Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Brian May to be evacuated from the Palace with Royal staff and concert organisers.
More than 100 firefighters eventually brought the flames under control after about 75 minutes.
Most of the damage was to carpets and came from burst pipes and water used to fight the flames. A glazed ceiling and a plaster ceiling were also affected.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘‘Naturally, this was an unfortunate accident which occurred at a very bad time.
‘‘But fortunately, the automatic fire detection system and the fire compartmentation installed by the Royal Household limited the damage.
A structural survey has not yet been completed but the fire has not affected the use of the State Rooms, he added.