The Channel Tunnel fire which closed the service for two hours late last week [29  November] caused "no significant damage" according to Eurotunnel.

The fire, which began on a freight train, was quickly extinguished in emergency sidings at the Calais exit of the tunnel by French firefighters

Direction de la Communication for Eurotunnel John Keefe said: "The alarm was raised at 1250 UK time at interval 6 in the UK to France tunnel. 

"When a second alarm was actuated emergency procedures were initiated. All trains were slowed down and then those behind the incident train were stopped."

Emergency procedures stipulate that any train involved in a fire incident should carry on to the next point of safety.

These are stations located in emergency sidings at the tunnel entrance and exits and at points 1/3 and 2/3 into the tunnel.

Keefe added: "The train was already past the internal stations when the alarm was raised.

"It was within 2km of the end of the tunnel so was run at 90mph out of the tunnel to the external emergency sidings, 1km outside of the tunnel. It was out of the tunnel within minutes."

The confirmation alarm resulted in French firefighters being alerted and mobilising to the emergency sidings.

The train was brought to a standstill and all people on board evacuated to an emergency reception centre. There were 36 people evacuated in total, including Eurotunnel crew and truck drivers. The fire was extinguished by the firefighters using the installed hose and lance system, with water or foam available.

They had the fire under control within 30 minutes and 20 minutes later announced that the incident was closed.

The cause or whether it started in the transporter or one of the cars on it is not yet known. The train carriage was not significantly damaged and is still useable.

The tunnel features a twin ventilation system which is used for normal and supplementary operation. Supplementary ventilation is used whenever dust/particulates or smoke are present. The system blows from one end of the tunnel and sucks from the other.

Trains within the tunnel were moved out of the tunnels and diverted via the crossover and out through the other tunnel as necessary. Once the trains were out the smoke was cleared using the ventilation system.

An inspection team was sent in after the smoke cleared to conduct a visual inspection and the tunnel was re-opened within 2 hours.

Posted 05/12/2012 by