Investigation launched after Sheffield Cathedral 'targeted' in arson attack following break-in

Police have launched an investigation after a suspected arson attack on the oldest building in Sheffield following a break-in.

Friday, 15th May 2020, 7:03 pm

Fire crews were called to Sheffield Cathedral on Church Street at around 6pm on Thursday after a 40-year-old woman allegedly set fire to the Domino Hall after smashing a window to gain entrance.

The suspect, from Sheffield, was arrested close to the scene on suspicion of arson and burglary after police arrived at around 6.30pm. She remains in custody today (15 May). Police confirmed nobody was injured in the incident. Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus took around 40 minutes to extinguish the blaze and prevent it spreading further. They remained on the scene to clear smoke from the building until around 10pm. The fire service is now assisting police with their investigation.

Sheffield Cathedral is one of only five Grade I Listed Building in the city. The Domino Hall is the largest room in the 900-year-old building and is used as an event space for up to 150 people.

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Fire at Sheffield Cathedral. Picture: Chris Etchells

Reverend Keith Farrow from Sheffield Cathedral said: “The fire started in the Domino Hall and it doesn’t look like there’s been huge, extensive damage.

“There’s been quite a lot of smoke and smoke damage in that area.”

The Cathedral is currently closed to the public because of coronavirus but the Cathedral Archer Project, which is based at the rear of the building on Campo lane, has remained open throughout lockdown.

The Cathedral Archer Project works with homeless and vulnerable people in Sheffield to help them find ways out of homelessness and exclusion. Last month it put out an emergency appeal for donations to allow them to continue their work.

Fire at Sheffield Cathedral. Pictured is The Reverend Canon Keith Farrow where the break in happened. Picture: Chris Etchells

Reverend Farrow added: “Everyone seems to be safe, nobody is injured. But clearly it’s affected the very heart of the Cathedral Archer Project.

“We want to pray for the work that might be affected in the Cathedral Archer Project at this particularly difficult time.”

The cost of the damage is not yet known. The Star has contacted the Cathedral Archer Project for comment.

A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police said: “An investigation is underway after a suspected arson attack at Sheffield cathedral last night (14 May).

“It’s understood that someone had gained to the cathedral through breaking a window, and set fire to one of the rooms.

“A 40-year-old woman from Sheffield was arrested nearby on suspicion of arson and burglary. She remains in police custody."Nobody was injured in the incident."

A South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue spokerperson added: “Firefighters from Central and Rivelin were called to a fire at the Sheffield Cathedral, on Church Street in the city centre, at 6pm yesterday (Thursday 14 May).

“Upon arrival they found smoke issuing from a community room that is connected to the cathedral. Breathing apparatus wearers immediately gained access and had extinguished the fire itself by 6.41pm – preventing any further spread.

“The crews remained on scene for some time after the fire was out clearing smoke from the building. There are no reports of any injuries and firefighters eventually left the scene at around 10pm.

“A joint investigation between the police and fire service is now underway.”