The historic Sandhill Park has been badly damaged by a fire that started in the small hours of 22 November 2011. Believed to have started in a single storey building at the rear of the house, it quickly spread through the East Wing, which now lies gutted, into the main house, where the roof has collapsed. The West Wing and Orangery look to have survived the fire. The Fire & Rescue Service have yet to begin their investigation but it is believed that gas and electricity supplies were not active at the site perhaps leading suspicions to fall on a deliberate fire. If this proves to be the case, it will be particularly disappointing as I have been asking the Council to use its powers under the Listed Buildings Act to ensure that the owners secured the building properly. It was obvious to me, while up there picking blackberries with the kids a few months ago that the building was not secure. Combined with the interest in the building’s supposedly haunted status, I have been concerned for some time that something like this might happen. It’s only a surprise that it hasn’t happened before. Ironic that Sandhill was once briefly home to Blazes, the national fire brigade museum, after a deeply naive attempt by Taunton Deane Borough Council to secure the future of the building; the developer got his 50 exec homes built next door, and what happenend to the museum? Shut as soon as permission was granted for the houses. Genius!