Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Truckers taken to safety after fire

Eurotunnel said a 'technical fault' has meant a temporary suspension of Folkestone-Calais shuttles
Eurotunnel said a 'technical fault' has meant a temporary suspension of Folkestone-Calais shuttles

Dozens of truckers have been taken to safety after fire broke out on a lorry on a shuttle train in the Channel Tunnel.

The incident, which closed the tunnel to all trains from around 1.30pm UK time, happened as the shuttle train was about to emerge at the French end of the 30-mile long tunnel.

The fire triggered a smoke alarm, the train was driven out of the tunnel to emergency sidings and the 36 lorry drivers on board were evacuated to a place of safety.

French fire crews put the fire out and no-one was hurt. Smoke in a section of tunnel was being dealt with by the tunnel's ventilation system.

In the meantime, neither Eurotunnel nor high-speed train company Eurostar, which operates from London to Paris and Brussels, have been able to operate any trains through the tunnel. No through freight train services were able to go through either, with Eurotunnel saying it hoped that the tunnel would be open again by late afternoon.

A Eurotunnel spokesman said: "Our procedures worked perfectly. The fire was about 400 metres behind where the lorry drivers were on the train and all of them are all right. There is some smoke in the tunnel and we are using the tunnel's ventilation system to get rid of that before starting services again."

There have been few serious fire incidents since the 30-mile tunnel opened in 1994.

The worst was in November 1996 when a lorry shuttle train fire damaged a large section of tunnel, with a number of truckers needing treatment for smoke inhalation.

It was several months before the tunnel was able to fully re-open.

There were also less serious fire incidents in August 2006 and September 2008.

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