Truckers taken to safety after tunnel fire

File photo of the entrance of the Channel tunnel, seen, outside Coquelles, northern France. Credit: PA

Dozens of truckers were taken to safety after fire broke out on a lorry on a shuttle in the Channel Tunnel between Folkestone and Calais.

The incident, which closed the tunnel to all trains from around 1.30pm, happened as the train was about to emerge at the French end of the 30-mile long tunnel.

The fire triggered a smoke alarm, the train was driven out of the tunnel to emergency sidings and 36 lorry drivers on board were evacuated to safety.

French fire crews put the fire out and no-one was hurt. Smoke in a section of tunnel was being dealt with by the tunnel's ventilation system.

In the meantime, neither Eurotunnel nor high-speed train company Eurostar, which operates from London to Paris and Brussels, have been able to operate any trains through the tunnel.

No through freight train services were able to go through either, with Eurotunnel saying it hoped that the tunnel would be open again by late afternoon.

A Eurotunnel spokesman said: "Our procedures worked perfectly. The fire was about 400 metres behind where the lorry drivers were on the train and all of them are all right.

"There is some smoke in the tunnel and we are using the tunnel's ventilation system to get rid of that before starting services again."

There have been few serious fire incidents since the 30-mile tunnel opened in 1994.

The worst was in November 1996 when a lorry shuttle train fire damaged a large section of tunnel, with a number of truckers needing treatment for smoke inhalation. It was several months before the tunnel was able to fully re-open.

There were also less serious fire incidents in August 2006 and September 2008.

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