The seat of the fire that caused major damage to theCutty Sark is being treated as a crime scene, police told the ship’s trustees yesterday.
Forensic scientists and fire investigators have cordoned off the area around the rear deck hatch. Their first tasks are to determine what ignited the blaze and whether it was an accident or act of arson.
The investigation began in earnest as the Duke of Edinburgh, president of the Cutty Sark Trust, visited the ship and an anonymous donor pledged £100,000 to help to save her.
The Duke walked around the stricken tea clipper, peering closely at the shell of iron and burnt timber. He compared the damage to that of the fire at Windsor Castle in 1992. Earlier he and the Queen visited the National Maritime Museum to celebrate the completion of the Time and Space extension at the Royal Observatory.
Detectives were viewing CCTV footage from cameras around the site at Greenwich, southeast London. Officers said that the film showed a number of people in the area before the fire broke out at 4.46am and a silver car leaving the area. They are anxious to trace those people and the vehicle.