RECOVERY OF UNBACKED MOSAICS FROM A STORAGE DEPOT FIRE AT THE SARDIS EXCAVATIONS, TURKEY
KENT SEVERSON, STEPHEN KOOB, JULIE WOLFE, PERRY CHOE, STEPHANIE HORNBECK, SARAH MCGREGOR HOWARTH, & ANTHONY SIGEL
2 2. THE FIRE
On the evening of June 19, 1997, at approximately 8:00 p.m., a brush fire in the west end of the Bath complex carried to an old construction shed. As local firemen and the guard on duty struggled to contain the fire, sparks carried by the light winds continued to spread the fire across the dry grass and overgrowth. By 9:30, the fire had reached the area near the mosaic storage depot and ignited the wooden beams supporting the roof. The dry, well-seasoned timbers burned quickly, generating enough heat to shatter nearly all of the roof tiles and spall large flakes off the massive marble blocks that formed the depot walls. Before midnight, the roof collapsed, sending a heavy load of burning beams and tile fragments crashing down on the stacked mosaics.
Local firefighters doused the depot with water from the Sart Belidiyesi (Sardis Fire Department) tanker truck. Unfortunately, the sole tanker could not be quickly refilled, and the fire was not immediately extinguished (fig. 5). Early the next day, the remaining charred beams, many still smoldering, were pulled from the depot by local workers. The fire was still burning in many areas and was finally extinguished by additional dousing with water.
The morning after the fire: still smoldering. Courtesy of Sarah McGregor Howarth