Fire in Chamonix: Dozens of People Evacuated


On 20 August 2020, at around 12.20 pm, the firefighters were called for a major fire on rue du Dr Paccard, in the centre of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc.

Around 80 firefighters were deployed to extinguish the fire, in a complex mission that lasted for several hours.

The inhabitants of four buildings were evacuated for the night.

A major fire took place in Chamonix centre on 20 August 2020. Photo source
A major fire took place in Chamonix centre on 20 August 2020. Photo source @Le Dauphine
A major fire took place in Chamonix centre on 20 August 2020. Photo source @Le Dauphine

On 20 August 2020, at around noon, a major fire started in a four-story building on rue du Dr Paccard. Significant resources were quickly mobilized from all over the Haute-Savoie department.

2.50 pm

The roof of the building (surface area: 200 m2 or 2,152 ft2) was completely ablaze.

The first three levels have been evacuated. Reconnaissance is underway on the 4th floor, where armoured doors make it difficult for emergency services.

About sixty firefighters were mobilized to fight against the fire on the roof and to prevent it from spreading to buildings located nearby. They were equipped with three pump-ton vans and three ladders.

After more than two hours of intervention, the fire was not under control.

The provisional assessment showed five people poisoned by smoke, including two gendarmes, two firefighters and a civilian.

The origin of the fire was unknown at this time. The town hall of Chamonix asked residents and tourists not to approach the area to facilitate the work of the emergency services. Rue du Dr Paccard was closed to traffic.

4 pm

At 4 pm, the fire was contained, and the risk of propagation to nearby buildings was eliminated.

About twenty people had been evacuated by the police and other residents of the adjoining buildings came out on their own. In total, five buildings were evacuated.

Five apartments located on the 4th floor were affected by the fire. 17 people who suffered from smoke poisoning received first aid from the health and medical rescue services.

Rescue/clearing means were engaged to ensure the solidity of the building. This is a long-term intervention that required relief until the evening so that the firefighters could identify and treat the residual outbreaks.

According to Captain Mouralis, head of the command post, "the intervention will last until this evening". In total, six nozzles were put in place at the height of the fire to deal with it.

5.10 pm

According to the municipality of Chamonix, the smoke release was very significant and toxic. Thus, the entire area had been closed and prohibited to pedestrians.

Residents close to the disaster were advised to close their windows and not to approach. A reception system was set up at the Majestic from 6 pm for all people unable to access the secure perimeter.

7 pm

At 7 pm, there were 80 firefighters on site. 16 people received immediate support from the health and medical rescue service and by SAMU 74 for smoke poisoning. Two firefighters were also evacuated for smoke poisoning.

The firefighters were working to completely extinguish the roof from the outside but also from the inside, from the attic. Relays were underway for this intervention which should continue for several hours in order to identify and treat the residual foci.

8.20 pm

Several dozen inhabitants of four buildings were evacuated and were not able to spend the night in their homes. Supported by the town hall and the Red Cross, they took their meal at the Majestic in Chamonix.

They spent the night at the town's sports centre. Shuttles between rue du Dr Paccard and the sports centre ran from 9 p.m. to midnight to transport the evacuees.

Source @Le Dauphine

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