A fire broke out at 10:15 am in a warehouse subject to authorization (item 1510 of the nomenclature of the French classified installations) at an external storage of wooden pallets. Employees are evacuated prior to the arrival of firefighters.

The economic consequences of the event are estimated at:

  • 1,000 euros for material damage (destruction of 152 pallets);
  • 4,500 euros for operating losses (evacuation of staff for 40 minutes).

The volume of the extinguishing water is evaluated at 50 m³. No damage to the environment is noticed by the operator, only a small amount of wood debris was noted on the ground. The retained water was released into the stormwater network after passing through a hydrocarbon separator.

According to the operator, an employee used a forklift to transport a batch of 15 pallets while pushing a second batch. A pallet of this second batch rubbed on the ground for 150 m. It probably heated a nail (metal-ground contact) which ignited a smouldering fire in the pallet storage. On the images of the site’s video surveillance system, fumaroles appear for about fifteen minutes without any human presence around. Very quickly (2 minutes), the smoke intensifies and the flames appear.

A feedback note is written by the operator. Among the areas for improvement are:

  • A review of the internal contingency plan (POI) of the establishment, taking into account the need to disconnect utility networks (gas and electricity). The burning island was also not far from a shut-off valve of the natural gas network wich may have been difficult to operate owing to the heat generated ;
  • Consideration of ways to control the 13 valves to be operated in order to place the site in a retention configuration. On the day of the accident, only the valves in bays 1 to 4 were closed. Furthermore, only 3 people were trained and authorised to close these valves, which could lead to a situation that is difficult to manage in the event of a widespread warehouse fire or a lack of personnel;
  • Oral training of the site’s forklift operators to take into account the feedback from the event. No formal written report was compiled to avoid alienating the forklift driver involved in the event;
  • Raising awareness among all employees regarding the instructions to be followed in the event of a fire (counting of evacuees, an indication of evacuation end times, etc.);
  • Improved communication: the Classified Facilities Inspection authorities had not been notified in this case. In addition, given the risk posed by the opacity of the smoke on the nearby motorway and air traffic, the managers of these infrastructures must also be informed.

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