It’s a fire that once again puts the Lubrizol disaster in everyone’s minds. A fire ravaged two disused buildings in Rouen on Saturday evening which collapsed, firefighters and the town hall said, releasing significant plumes of smoke above the city.
The fire “started in an abandoned eight-story building (…) around 6 p.m.” and it “spread in the evening to a second abandoned building. The two buildings collapsed,” said the town hall during the night from Saturday to Sunday. “The fire now appears to be contained and the risk of spread has been eliminated”, “the final phase of extinguishing the fire is underway”. The fire, the origin of which is unknown, did not cause any casualties, said the town hall.
“It was a furnace”
Around 130 firefighters were mobilized. “These buildings are made of steel and glass. Under the fire, the steel softened,” explained Thomy Chauvel, commander of rescue operations, quoted by the daily Paris-Normandy. “It was a furnace,” testified Fatima El Khili, deputy mayor of Rouen, present on site.
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These buildings, which date from the 1970s and have been empty since 2018, contain asbestos. “Regarding the toxicity of the smoke, measurements were taken by the departmental fire and rescue service (SDIS) throughout the operation,” said the town hall. “No dangerous threshold has been identified. »
Additional analyzes concerning in particular asbestos will be carried out “from this Sunday”, according to the town hall. “Sampling and analysis of soot fallout will be carried out, as well as ground measurements and air controls.” The results will be known within two to three days. The city asked residents “not to collect potential fallout (soot and debris), while awaiting the results of the analysis.”
Nursery and elementary schools located near the fire will remain closed as a “precautionary principle”, further specified the town hall, which will bring together a crisis unit this Sunday.
The spectrum of Lubrizol
On social networks, Internet users were worried about the possible health consequences of these fumes, while Rouen was marked by the fire in September 2019 on a Lubrizol automobile lubricants site classified Seveso high threshold. It caused no casualties but caused a gigantic plume of black smoke and nearly 10,000 tonnes of chemicals burned.
In January 2023, another fire hit the Bolloré Logistics company site in Grand-Couronne in Seine-Maritime, again without causing any casualties. It notably affected a warehouse where 12,000 lithium automobile batteries were stored, on an unclassified Seveso industrial site.
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