The roof completely collapsed and the 102-year old building suffered great damage after a fire broke out Sunday at the Haydarpasha train station which is one of the historical landmarks of Istanbul.
Authorities said the fire broke out during roof sheathing work and a three-member committee has been appointed to find out what really caused the fire. Istanbul Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers criticized the authorities for failing to act swiftly to put out the fire. In a statement they claimed that failure to intervene from the air by fire fighting craft was a grim mistake that caused fire to spread from the roof to the upper two floors of the building.
According to media reports, fire department of Kadikoy that reached the station first did not have ladders tall enough to reach the building’s roof. Tugs from the port authority and fire fighting vessels also helped to extinguish the flames.
Haydarpasha Train Station was built as the northern terminus of the Istanbul-Baghdad railroad, at a time when the Ottoman Empire had allied itself with Germany just at the beginning of World War I. The construction was undertaken by a German firm and the building was designed by two German architects Otto Ritter and Helmuth Cuno. The present building was built to replace the old train station on the same site built in 1872 for passengers taking the short railroad to Izmit. Italian stone masons were also employed at the building. The building clearly features German Neo-classical lines.
Haydarpasha became the focal point of a heated debate during the last couple of years when the government announced plans to open up the area around the station to developers. Critics of the idea staged several protest demonstrations around the train station arguing that high-rises that might be built by developers around the station would destroy Istanbul’s skyline and reduce the Haydarpasha station to an insignificant structure.