In the night from Wednesday to Thursday, the fire flared up twice more, but in the meantime the fire at the University of Antwerp has been completely extinguished. Fire Brigade Zone Antwerp was assisted and relieved by various fire brigades from the area. No students or staff were injured, but a roofer with burns was taken to hospital.
According to rector Herman Van Goethem, the fact that the fire was so difficult to bring under control was because the building is located in the heart of the city. “The back of the building can only be reached through a narrow street where only one fire truck can be parked,” Van Goethem told Radio 1 the morning after the fire.
The fire already damaged the top floor of building B of the city campus. On the floor below and building D, on the other side, there is certainly a lot of water damage due to the extinguishing works. The exact extent of the incident will be estimated later on Thursday. The adjacent library with numerous valuable documents would have been preserved, just like the centuries-old buildings around the affected (20th-century) building.
The rector was not yet able to say anything about the cause of the fire. He did confirm that roofing works were actually underway. “Investigation by the public prosecutor and the insurance companies will have to provide a definitive answer.”
‘Heart of the city campus’
The streets around the campus in question have been free again since Wednesday evening. However, a large part of the campus remains inaccessible: “The law faculty does, as does the small courtyard garden of the Hof van Liere. As for the library, we won’t know until tomorrow whether it will be accessible. Additional consultations need to be held about this,” said UAntwerp spokesman Peter De Meyer.
“A fire in the heart of the city campus is of course imminent,” says De Meyer. The affected building dates from 1930, centuries younger than the rest of the campus. But the location is close to the university’s heart. “If you have to give one image of the university, it is usually that of the courtyard garden of the Hof van Liere where the fire is located,” it sounds. “Then this hurts.”
“In terms of repair work, we are probably looking at a year or two,” says Van Goethem.
View more images of the heavy fire