Large fire breaks out at Bank of France money printing factory

Nearly 400 employees were evacuated from the site and ten people were reportedly taken to hospital

Holly Bancroft
Wednesday 09 February 2022 15:47 GMT
<p>The aftermath of the huge fire at a Bank of France factory in Puy-de-Dome </p>

The aftermath of the huge fire at a Bank of France factory in Puy-de-Dome

A large fire broke out on Wednesday at the Bank of France money printing works in Chamalieres in central France.

Footage shared online showed huge plumes of smoke rising from the factory on Wednesday morning, but authorities said the blaze was under control by noon.

A reported 70 firefighters were sent to tackle the fire.

Thirty-four people suffered minor injuries, according to local media reports, including ten who were taken to the nearby hospital of Clermont-Ferrand.

The Bank of France issued a statement on social media at 10:50am saying the fire was under control, the site had been evacuated, and that the 387 employees who had been on site were safe.

Site director Pierre-Yves Boissinot said “there will inevitably be an impact” on the production of banknotes, but added: “We are not worried because the overall production tool has not been affected ... it could have been worse.”

Some 2.5 billion banknotes are printed in the building each year.

“We do not know how the fire broke out, there will necessarily be a judicial inquiry,” the governor of Puy-de-Dome Philippe Chopin said. He said there was “no danger to the public as there were no toxic products at the place where the fire started.”

Earlier in the day, the prefecture had asked the local population to stay at home and not to open the windows because of the release of the smoke, France Bleu news website reported.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mickael Besseyre, site manager, said: “Our main objectives were to identify the victims and to limit the spread of the disaster.”

Speaking at 12:20pm, he said that the fire was contained, adding: “At the start, the fire was very violent but we were able to control it quite quickly.”

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