See: Valečský Castle commemorates 46 years since the devastating fire

As Roman Bartoň, spokesperson for the National Monuments Institute in Loket (NPÚ) now points out, there have long been rumors that the fire was started by children. “They were allegedly abused in the children’s home and it was also said that the castle had burned down almost completely because the firefighters (actually firefighters) didn’t want to get out of the fire because his announcement was seen as a prank. April,” said an NPÚ spokesperson.

Unfortunately, the fire of April 2, 1976 was fatal to the castle of Valeč.Source: Photo: NPÚ Archives

As part of this sad anniversary, environmentalists publish the report of the firefighters of the time, which describes in detail on 43 pages what really happened on the night of April 1-2, 1976. The report was written by the then intervention commander, Major Josef Draský. “The fire in the attic of the north wing of the castle was noted by the staff of the children’s home around 4 a.m. on April 2, 1976. Due to the thick smoke from the attic, alarm and evacuation of 80 children accommodated here,” writes Draský. Simultaneously with this measure, the director of the hostel notified the National Municipal Committee of Valča by telephone and at 4.15 a.m. an alarm sounded by siren. At 4.31 a.m. the fire was reported to the control panel of the public fire service of the Karlovy Vary district and this, simultaneously with the departure of the fire brigade, announces a 3rd degree alarm. At 4.30 p.m., the first units arrive at the place of the fire. “At this moment, the fire has penetrated more than half of the west and north wings and is spreading rapidly into the attic. Due to the lack of fire water (a nearby pond in the castle grounds has been empty for many years), the commandant decided to transport water from a catchment well 360 meters away. fire station in the church square near the church could not be used as it is 240 meters with an elevation of 30 meters and the hose should be difficult to pass over the castle terraces and high walls.The first fight against the fire was completely ineffective, because the water did not even reach the fire due to low pressure, so the practically unextinguished fire in the attic spread very quickly and in a short time touched the entire floor The roof and the large attic without a fire wall did not prevent the rapid spread of the fire, ”continues the incident commander.

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Luck was not on the side of Valeč Castle, even in the case of the possible use of the transport stream, which was attempted by the summoned firefighters from Podbořany. “Due to a valve failure between the tank and the pump, she was unable to spray. The main rescue work therefore focused on evacuating the children. This task was accomplished well, no one was ‘was hurt,’ Draský describes the dramatic moments.

Further investigation revealed that the fire had already engulfed the entire roof and attic, and that the fire had already penetrated the ceiling in the emergency room on the second floor in the southwest corner of the castle, where furniture was already burning. “The entrance to the second floor attic has already been blocked by falling flaming beams. The tower on the south side was already burning, and the north one was burning in the upper part, the central part was heavily smoky.

The futile efforts of the firefighters eventually focused on saving the castle’s rarest interiors and valuables. For example, firefighters tried to prevent the fire from spreading to the lower part of the west wing, where the very valuable historic Braun Hall with its murals was located on the first floor. Other units took out the furniture. “Part of the seat ceiling fell off and there was a risk of breaking the wooden coffered ceiling above the hall on the ground floor, where a large number of expensive and valuable sculptures by the famous sculptor Matyáš Braun were stored than the whole castle,” the event commander points out in the report.

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The final extinction of the fire was only carried out on Sunday April 4, 1976 at 7 am. And what was the cause of the liquidation fire, according to Draský:

Unfortunately, not much remained of the castle or its interiors after April 2, 1976. The most valuable, the original statues by Matyáš Braun, later made their way to Kladruby Castle. It took almost half a century for the famous statues to return to Valča Castle. In the meantime, they received their copies, which stood for many years in the castle park. After several of them were stolen by an unknown author, they were placed in a makeshift lapidary. At the end of 2019, the originals gradually began to return to Valče, where an original exhibition was created for them.

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