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A fire broke out at the printing works of the Banque de France


Lhe fire started on Wednesday February 9 at 10:15 a.m. from a banknote design laboratory and spread through the Banque de France printing works in Chamalières (Puy-de-Dôme). It was brought under control at midday, according to the prefecture. “There are no casualties except for a few people inconvenienced by the fumes,” firefighter lieutenant-colonel Mickaël Besseyre told the press. Thirty-four people were slightly injured and ten were evacuated to the CHU, including two firefighters, according to the report established by the prefecture. At the time of the incident, 387 people were present on the site.

“At the start, the fire was very violent (…) but, with the means implemented, we were able to stem the disaster quite quickly”, specified Mickaël Besseyre. About 70 firefighters and 24 machines were mobilized, according to the prefecture. Images posted on social media showed a thick plume of black smoke rising from the building at the start of the fire. At midday, only a slight release of white smoke was still visible, according to a journalist from Agence France-Presse.

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Ticket production impacted?

Starting from a “restricted room”, the fire spread to a building 300 m2, whose roof was pierced: “There will inevitably be an impact” on the production of tickets, but “we are not worried because the overall productive tool has not been affected. It will be necessary to put in place appropriate measures (…), it could have been worse”, underlined the director of the site, Pierre-Yves Boissinot. “We do not know how the fire broke out, there will necessarily be a judicial inquiry”, indicated the prefect of Puy-de-Dôme, Philippe Chopin, assuring that there was “no danger for the population because there were no toxic products at the place where the fire started”.

Several streets in the district, bordering Clermont-Ferrand, have been closed to traffic. The departmental operational center, a crisis management tool, has been activated at the prefecture. It is in this printing house, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2021, that banknotes are produced in France. A little more than half of the production concerns euros, the rest being made up of other currencies such as the CFA franc. Some 2.5 billion banknotes are printed there each year. Considered for several years, the move of the printing plant and its approximately 700 employees to the Vic-le-Comte site (Puy-de-Dôme) must be confirmed in the coming months, to take place by 2026.


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