Residents were suddenly awakened in the middle of the night in Plancoet, in north western France by a series of huge explosions coming from a nearby supermarket, which destroyed properties, blew out windows and had the authorities scrambling to evacuate the area, whilst trying to contain the enormous blaze.
Approximately 40 firefighters were in attendance in minutes, from the town’s service and local villages to attend to the blaze which started at 02.38am local time at the ‘Hyper U’ store in the town.
Exploded gas bottles were hurled over 50 metres, and in the vicinity there was a huge worry for firefighters as there is a large LPG, (liquid petroleum gas), tank nearby which had it exploded would have wreaked havoc.
Fifty-five people were evacuated from their homes as the gas bottles continued to explode, these could become missiles, and cause more devastation.
Hampering their efforts further was the risk of additional gas cylinders exploding and becoming improvised missiles, forcing firefighters to keep their distance and rely on water cannons to tame the blaze.
Thursday morning’s fire is the largest of 15 blazes to occur in the town in the last three months. Mayor Patrick Barrault declined to comment on the possibility that a serial arsonist was to blame for the recent spate of fires, citing an ongoing investigation.
Thankfully nobody was injured in the incident, and at the moment there is no knowledge of how much the damage will cost to repair.