Northampton Museum fire: 'Nothing of value' damaged

Northampton Museum fire
Image caption The fire broke out at Northampton Museum at about 19:40 GMT on Wednesday

A fire at a museum damaged "nothing of value" because it had been emptied for a building refurbishment, managers say.

The blaze broke out at Northampton Museum in Guildhall Road in the town, at about 19:40 GMT on Wednesday.

Fire crews forced their way into the building to tackle the second-floor fire, which it said "involved debris and had travelled through the floor".

Council leader Jonathan Nunn said the museum had been "completely empty of artefacts".

The museum shut two years ago for a "major new expansion project" and had been due to reopen early next year.

Speaking at the scene of the fire, Mr Nunn said the blaze was "fairly contained".

Image caption The fire service said the blaze, on the second floor of the museum, involved "debris"

"It is in that early part of construction, the place is just being ripped apart ready to take out the walls so there was nothing of value [there], the things that people love to come and see were not in there," he said.

"I think we can at this stage be reasonably reassured that there is not huge, extensive damage inside but there's still a little bit of uncertainty, we'll just have to wait."

In 2014 the museum lost its Arts Council accreditation after controversially selling a 4,000-year-old Egyptian statue to a private collector to help fund the building's extension.

Arts Council England ruled the sale of the statue for nearly £16m breached the accredited standards for how museums manage their collections.

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