The historic Hotel Valhöll in Thingvellir National Park burnt to the ground on Friday. The fire was noticed in the afternoon and the hotel was evacuated immediately. The hotel was aflame in a half an hour and it was considered lucky that no one was harmed.
Hotel Valhöll. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
A black report on the state of the building was published in 2006, revealing that necessary requirements on fire protection were not being fulfilled. Only a few improvements were made in response to the report, Fréttabladid reports.
“The report states that it’s an accident trap so I’m not surprised that this happened after the fire was reported,” said architect Thorsteinn Gunnarsson, one of those who wrote the report.
According to Úlfar Thórisson, who took over the hotel’s operations in May, the fire is likely to have started in a chimney in the kitchen. “It all happened very fast and the house quickly filled with smoke.”
One of the hotel’s employees required treatment because of smoke poisoning but no one else required medical attention. Few people were inside the building when the fire started, but a concert and BBQ feast was planned for the evening.
The hotel was already aflame when firefighters from the Árnessýsla county fire department arrived to the scene. They, along with firefighters from Reykjavík, tried in vain to extinguish the fire.
The hotel is severely damaged and considered irreparable. Firefighters extinguished embers until late in the evening and monitored the building the following night.
Hotel Valhöll was constructed in 1898. In 1929, the building was moved to its current location and renovated for the celebration of the millennium anniversary of the Icelandic parliament, Althingi, in 1930. The house has been in state ownership since 2002.