Significant industrial site fires strike in India and France

Two severe fires broke out at a recycling plant in France and a paint factory in India last week, with the latter resulting in multiple fatalities.

On 17 February 2024, in southern France, a major fire broke out at a recycling plant warehouse in Viviez. It is understood that the fire started in a warehouse containing 900 metric tons of lithium batteries that were waiting to be recycled. 

As reported by Reuters, emergency services spent two days working to bring the fire under control, with Le Monde newspaper stating that between 60 and 70 firefighters were present at the height of the fire. The fire and rescue service added that a team of five firefighters remained on site for two days.

BestMag described how a 500-metre cordon was implemented around the site, with residents requested to stay indoors and keep doors and windows closed owing to the large plumes of smoke surrounding the blaze. No injuries were reported, and local authorities added that there was “no indication of dangerous air pollution”. 

Owned by recycling company SNAM, the 3,000m2 centre is used to recycle lithium-ion, nickel metal hydride, and nickel-cadmium batteries.

Local councillor, Pascal Mazet expressed his thanks to Aveyron’s fire and rescue service (SDIS), the police, and SNAM personnel who were on-site to manage the incident. The cause of the fire is currently being investigated.

Speaking to French news channel BFMTV, Mayor of Viviez, Jean-Louis Denoit called the incident “shocking”, adding: “Behind all this, there is indeed reason to ask questions about the function of electric vehicles and lithium batteries.

India’s capital New Delhi also saw a severe fire break out at a paint factory on 15 February 2024, killing 11 people and leaving four others injured. According to The Independent, the blaze started on the ground floor with workers on the floors above unable to escape.

It is understood that an explosion occurred prior to the fire, causing part of the building to collapse, and trapping a number of workers.

Reuters reported that 22 fire appliances were in attendance to tackle the flames and were able to bring the blaze under control within four hours, although the cause of the fire is still unknown. Delhi Fire Services Chief, Atul Garg said: "There was a blast which brought the building down, trapping the labourers under the debris. The fire then rapidly spread to adjacent buildings and shops."

Fire that involves paint is very hard to extinguish,” he added.


(Image taken by Councillor Pascal Mazet)