A HUGE fire has destroyed one of the most well-preserved medieval castles in Slovakia, Krásna Hôrka, near Rožňava (Košice Region). The fire began on Saturday (March 10) afternoon, and was probably sparked by grass burning nearby, the SITA newswire reported.

At the time the fire started there were no visitors in the castle. Zoltán Árvay from the local emergency operations centre said that the roof of the castle caught fire, which later fell in and set fire to the furniture and exhibits within the castle, the SITA newswire reported.

Firefighters from Rožňava, Dobšiná, Košice and Poprad, as well as the volunteers from nearby Štítnik, arrived to help tackle the fire, but it quickly spread out of control. A helicopter used for putting out forest fires was also expected to help douse the fire, Árvay added.

Firefighters say they believe the fire was started by deliberate burning of grass near the castle and that a spark set fire to the castle’s wooden roof.

“We are 100-percent sure that the fire was started by the grass burning,” said district fire brigade operations officer Stanislav Peti, as quoted by the Sme.sk website. “Originally, [residents] called us to protect the nearby settlement.”

Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic was due to visit the area at around 18:00 on Saturday.