Inside Chester Zoo’s ravaged Monsoon Forest enclosure after horror blaze

Shocking images from inside Chester Zoo’s fire-ravaged Monsoon Forest show it has been reduced to a soot-covered shell.

Shocked visitors were forced to flee the enclosure earlier today as the blaze "spread very quickly."

One person was treated for smoke inhalation and several animals are still unaccounted for.

Zoo chiefs confirmed their critically endangered Sumatran orangutans and Gibbons are being cared for by staff after they were reportedly wrapped in blankets and led from the scene.

All the zoo’s other mammals are accounted for and being looked after by the zoo’s specialist conservationists and vets, reports Manchester Evening News .

Staff are working hard to find all other species, such as birds, and move animals to alternative habitats.


Now Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer Mark Cashin has tweeted images showing the extent of the damage.

The building, which houses Sumatran orangutans, macaques and crocodiles, was left badly charred following the blaze.

Pictures show the roof has been completely destroyed by the blaze with only the metal beams remaining.

Plants and furniture inside have also been decimated, as thick piles of soot can be seen on the floor.

Thick, billowing smoke was seen rising into the air as the flames tore through the exhibition space.

Crews rushed to the scene to extinguish the blaze, with firefighters seen atop a cherry picker.


Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service crews wearing breathing apparatus tackled the blaze using water jets.

A visitor, who declined to be named, said: "We were in the monsoon enclosure when it happened and were rushed out – It spread very quickly.

"The staff ensured all the members of the public were safe. Many staff (were) running towards the fire, (I’m) assuming to help with evacuating animals.

"The entire zoo is closed – a shame as we’ve travelled up from Plymouth."

Although the fire has been extinguished firefighters will remain at the scene to dampen it down, a statement from the fire service said.


The cause of today’s blaze in the Monsoon Forest remains unclear at this time, although one visitor claimed it was an "electrical fire".

The zoo said in a statement: "Critically endangered Sumatran orangutans and other mammals are accounted for and being looked after by the zoo’s specialist conservationists and vets.

"We are working hard to account for all other species, such as birds, and move animals to alternative habitats.

"Given that this is the UK’s largest zoological tropical house, it will take some time.

"We will be working intensively in the coming days and weeks to do this."

The zoo confirmed later: "Many of you have expressed that you would like to come along to the zoo to show your support, so we are able to confirm that the zoo will be open to visitors tomorrow (Sunday). 

"The Monsoon Forest building and Islands zone will remain closed as our conservationists and vets continue to provide expert care and attention for the species there.

"The Lanterns event will go ahead tomorrow evening (Sunday, December 16) as planned."

Eyewitness, David Clough, earlier described how high winds fanned the fire in the inflatable roof of the building.

He said there were "lots of flames", adding: "We were very worried for the people and animals that would have been in the building."

Taking to Twitter this morning, another witness, called Andy, shared an image of huge plumes of dark smoke billowing into the air.



He wrote: "Such a shame, huge fire at Chester Zoo. Being evacuated :(."

Meanwhile, a third visitor told Mirror Online how employees asked him to move to the "other side" of the zoo after the fire broke out.

The visitor said he was then asked to leave and given a refund.

"We saw the smoke in the distance and didn’t really think much of it until staff started asking us to evacuate to the other side of the zoo," he said.

"They told us to then make our way to the exit and that they’d get more information soon. We’ve since had a refund and have left, but we were told that we don’t know if the zoo will re-open today."

The North West Ambulance Service was called to the scene at 11.42am.

It sent an ambulance and two rapid response vehicles to the incident.

The Monsoon Forest is part of the zoo’s £40million Islands development that was built in 2015.

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