Forty years ago today flames completely destroyed the South Transept roof of York Minster. However, without the heroic efforts of firefighters, one of the world's most historic buildings could have been lost completely. Ahead of the commemorative service; hosted at the Minster at 5pm today, The Press looks back at one of the most significant days in the city's modern history.

At around 2.30am on Monday, July 9, 1984, the Minster's automatic fire alarm was triggered after a lightning strike hit the South Transept roof.

Within half an hour of the fire starting under the Rose Window, the South Transept roof was alight.

There were 130 firefighters, with 20 water pumps, from 12 different stations called to tackle the blaze.

The South Transept roof as it is today (Image: Harry Booth)

Wood, lead, and roof bosses fell as the firefighters battled their way up the spiral staircase to the roof.

Later that night - at around 3.45am - those same firefighters decided to collapse the roof's wooden beams in a bid to stop the fire spreading.

As some firefighters scaled a 100-foot ladder outside the Minster, some manned the water cannon inside, and the rest climbed the staircase - the fire began to fall under control.

By dawn, the firefighters could see the extent of the damage.

It took until 1988 to rebuild the South Transept roof  (Image: Newsquest)

The heat and smoke persisted for a large part of the following day. Not long after, the restoration work began.

Some 40,000 cracks in the Rose Window, a fallen roof, and distinctive roof bosses needed to be replaced.

York Minster worked with children's TV show Blue Peter on a new roof boss design. Competition winner Laura Edwards spoke with The Press about the "amazing experience" of having her design chosen.

In February 1987, the scaffolding on the South Wall was lifted - showing a restored Rose Window.

The crosswalk on the South Transept roof, where firefighters walked to get to the fire in 1984 (Image: Harry Booth)

Restoration was finally complete on November 4, 1988. As Queen Elizabeth II took part in a service commemorating the work, the service was broadcasted around the world.

Now, 40 years on, York Minster is commemorating the historic day with a service. The Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell will be joined by firefighters, stonemasons, and organists who were there on the day.

The Minster has also unveiled its "Out of the Ashes" exhibition, as well as launching a fundraising badge-appeal - based on the Blue Peter designed roof boss.