Fire rages through historic Istanbul building

AP News
Posted: Jan 22, 2013 4:37 PM

ISTANBUL (AP) — A fire tore through a former Ottoman mansion along the Bosporus for hours on Tuesday, badly damaging the historic building before firefighters brought it under control. No one was injured in the blaze at the building, which has been used by a Turkish university.

As the flames raged, firefighters had to use fire-extinguishing boats to hose the 140-year-old wooden structure from the sea, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The building was one of several mansions built as annexes to an Ottoman palace, but is now part of the prestigious Galatasaray University. There were no students inside the building at the time of the fire and all staff members were safely evacuated.

Ozlem Yuce, a member of the teaching staff, told private NTV television that the fire started on the top floor of the three-story structure and quickly spread through the building, which houses staff and faculty members' offices as well as books and documents.

The fire was most likely caused by an electrical fault, Ethem Tolga, the university's president, told NTV.

Footage from the private Dogan news agency showed tall flames and smoke rising from the roof of building, which was once used by sultans' family members.

"The building is burning before our eyes," Yuce, the staff member, told NTV. "Thank God there was no loss of life, but we are about to lose a historic building."