Fire Fighters Called out at 3am to Try to Save Dinosaur

The huge model of a long-necked dinosaur created by artists Heather and Ivan Morison has been destroyed in a blaze.  It is not known how the fire started that destroyed the 53 feet long statue, but police officers from Portsmouth’s Targeted Patrol team are looking into the matter.

To read an article on the installation of the giant dinosaur model: Ultrasauros Visits Southsea Common.

The enormous dinosaur was brought to Southsea Common earlier in the summer and it has proved to be a very popular attraction, especially with young children.  Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the fire service the metal and fibreglass structure, known as “Luna Park”  has been virtually destroyed.

The life-size sculpture represents an Ultrasauros, an enormous brachiosaurid dinosaur whose fossilised bones were discovered in the United States.  The genus is now no longer valid, dinosaur hunter Jim Jenson described the dinosaur based on several large bones that had been found in association with each other, but these fossils appear to represent two different and distinct sauropod genera.  As these two genera have already been described and named, the genus Ultrasauros is no longer valid.

For Professor Jenson the difficulties over Ultrasauros had begun earlier with the naming of this dinosaur.  He originally named the beast Ultrasaurus, however, the name had to be changed to Ultrasauros because the name Ultrasaurus had already been used two years earlier to describe the fossils of a smaller sauropod (long-necked dinosaur) discovered in South Korea.

Long-necked Dinosaur

Fire fighters were called to the scene around 3am this morning, but they were unable to save the sculpture, citing difficulties in accessing the common and the fact that the fibre glass was well alight by the time they were able to take any action.

Acting crew manager Scott Yule, from Hampshire fire service, said the model’s location meant crews could not gain easy access.

He added:

“We were called to reports to a dinosaur alight on Southsea Common – not something you get every day on the call log”.

Commenting on the remains of the structure he went on to add:

“The neck of the dinosaur is on the floor, completely collapsed, it is quite a sight, unfortunately.”

Portsmouth councillors had hoped that the statue would have become a permanent resident in Hampshire once the installation had finished a tour.  It was due to be erected in Colchester in a few days time, before travelling onto Cardiff.

The leader of Portsmouth City Council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson said that the model had proved very popular, especially with young children and families.

The councillor stated:

“It’s incredibly sad, families have loved it, kids have loved climbing all over it”.

The cause of the fire is unknown, but arson has not been ruled out.  The blaze coincided with student freshers week and some residents and locals have been quick to blame students, believing that the fire may have been a student prank that went horribly wrong.

PC Jack Oakley from Portsmouth’s Targeted Patrol team commented:

“What we’re dealing with currently is an unexplained fire.  We’re looking into the possible causes to establish whether it was accidental or deliberate.  We’ve got police and fire experts looking into the possibility of forensics although unfortunately the current bad weather is not helping.   I understand there were a number of people who witnessed the fire and took footage of it on their mobile phones and I’m hoping they will be able to help my enquiries. ”

The police have appealed for anyone on Southsea Common at the time of the fire, to come forward as they may be able to help determine how the blaze began.

It is such a shame to report on the demise of the Ultrasauros sculpture, very disappointing to hear of its destruction, perhaps it was a lightning strike but if deliberate arson is proved then we hope that the culprits are brought to justice.

Visit Everything Dinosaur’s website: Everything Dinosaur.