Fire investigation into cause of Chester Zoo fire complete

Chester Zoo fire Fire investigators at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service have now determined the cause of the fire in Monsoon Forest, at Chester Zoo, on Saturday 15 December as an accidental fire caused by an electrical fault.

Area manager at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service Lee Shears said: “This was a large and complex operation involving more than 80 fire fighters from Cheshire, Merseyside and North Wales Fire and Rescue Services.

“Firefighters and zoo staff worked closely together in an incredibly challenging situation to evacuate the building and rescue as many animals as possible.

“The professionalism and expertise of the staff at the zoo meant that many precious species were saved.”

Jamie Christon, Chester Zoo’s Chief Operating Officer,added: “We’re grateful that the Fire and Rescue Service has been able to conclude its investigation into the cause of the fire so swiftly and would again like to thank them for their valiant efforts on the day, which helped us to rescue so many animals and minimise the extent of the damage.

“Our efforts now will focus on rebuilding Monsoon Forest so we can return some very special species back to their home and continue our mission to prevent extinction.”

Chester Zoo fire

At 11.28am on Saturday 15th December we were called to a large fire at Chester Zoo. The blaze was in the Monsoon Forest Habitat on the site, which is the UK’s largest zoo building.

Due to the scale of the fire it was declared a major incident. The zoo was immediately evacuated and a cordon was put in place. Firefighters - wearing breathing apparatus and using main jets - brought the fire under control and extinguished the fire. The area where the fire started was significantly damaged but the actions of the fire crews stopped the spread of the fire to the rest of the building and saved a large portion of it.

Firefighters also helped the zoo keepers to move some of the animals away from the fire. They helped staff manually move some small reptiles such as turtles and tortoises, and helped staff to shut the gates behind the large mammals, such as gibbons and orangutans, after the zoo keepers had coaxed them into their outside habitats.

The zoo have confirmed that the critically endangered Sumatran orangutans and other mammals were all accounted for but have sadly confirmed that a number of insects, frogs, fish and small birds died as a result of the fire.

The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing but at this stage we believe that it was accidental.

For more information - Fire in an enclosure in Chester Zoo 

Statement from Chester Zoo (opens in new window)

Related images

Aerial ladder platform at Chester Zoo
Chester Zoo fire
Fire in the Monsoon Forest Habitat at Chester Zoo