BEIJING – An investigation into a fire at Lhasa’s Jokhang Temple, one of the most renowned temples in Tibetan Buddhism, has ruled out arson as the cause of the blaze, Chinese state media said on Thursday.
The failure of the temple’s ventilation system triggered the fire, investigators said.
The fire broke out in the ventilating chamber on the second floor in the 30-year-old main building, according to local government sources cited by official news agency Xinhua.
The fire destroyed an area of about 50 square meters (538 sq feet), and the characteristic golden top of the enclosure had to be removed in case it collapsed.
There were initial fears that the fire had damaged the temple’s most precious image, which portrays the Buddha Sakyamuni when he was 12 years old.
Although it did not sustain serious damage, protective supports and clapboards have been temporarily erected around the statue.
The investigating authorities have ruled out human factors to be the cause of fire, and said the famous statue and more than 6,510 cultural relics inside the temple were intact.
The fire broke out on Feb. 17 without causing any casualties, although the building and Barkhor market, which surrounds the temple, needed to be closed temporarily.
The temple is more than 1,300 years old, and is home to a community of monks. It is one of the most revered sites in Tibetan Buddhism and receives thousands of pilgrims every day.