IntroductionThere was a major fire that had occurred in the year 1999 in Mount Blanc tunnel. The devastating fire occurred in the year 1999. The Mount Blanc Tunnel, 11.6 km long, the world’s largest road tunnel connecting Chamonix of France and Courmayeur of Italy under the Mont Blanc Massif. The tunnel is a single bore two lane tunnel. The shape of tunnel is a horseshoe with 7m wide roadway and two 0.8 walkways on either sides. At each 300 m, there are rest areas for vehicles with 3.15m width by 30m long located on the alternative side of the roadways numbering 1 to 36 at the direction from France to Italy. Opposite of each rest area, there is a designated U-turn for trucks. The fire occurred in 1999.
Belgium truck, that was the heaviest truck, stopped at 6.7 kilometer at the France-Italy direction. The growth of the fire was on account of the large fuel loaded in the truck, which was also containing 550 liters of diesel inside the fuel tank, 9 tons of margarine and 12 tons of flour and the shell of the refrigerated trailer, which was constructed from combustible isothermal foam.
The fire spread quickly and also caught vehicles standing behind. The whole tunnel was filled with intense heat and smoke preventing emergency and fire fighting operatives to reach the place. At the time fire engulfed the place there, the air flow was very weak approximately between 1 to 1.5 m/s towards Italy/France direction forcing the smoke and flame to spread towards the direction of France entrance, as a consequence number of vehicles standing behind the truck could not escape themselves being caught in the fire.
It took complete two days to completely put down the fire, meanwhile temperature had touched 1000°C. Fire took the lives of 39 people, most of them were drivers who were trapped inside the tunnel with fire all around. Many of the drivers stayed inside or just near the trucks but those people who tried to escape could only run for 100-500 m and collapsed on account of the smoke. This showed that smoke had huge quantity of toxic with CO content rising quickly for more than 150 ppm within minutes.
The main aim after the fire occurred was to create a tunnel that would be having more fire resistant materials. There was loss of human lives in the tunnel and more than 30 vehicles were gushed down in the vagaries of fire. These vehicles were stationed at their rest areas between 19 and 23 covering a distance of 1.2 km. Fire fighting from both the sides of the tunnel operators were unable to keep control over the fire and after investigations showed that many of the victims died in a time span of just 15 minutes after the fire was detected. The main things that was doneFire-resistant sheeting fitted to its wallsMore traffic lights and flashing warning signsFireproof doors and a video link to one of three command postsThere have been a total of 116 smoke extractors that was fitted in every 100 meters. 76 new fresh air vents has been created. There has been installation of heat sensors at both ends of the tunnel.
This are done to detect the trucks that has been overheat. There has been installation of 120 video cameras that will be monitoring traffic at all times.
Three command posts with one in French side and other in the Italian side. The third will be the central post that will be overlooked by the fire fighting unit.