'Major fire' at Paris's famed Ritz hotel

2016-01-19 15:40
French firefighters stand next to their truck as a fire engulfs the top floor of Paris’ Ritz Carlton hotel. (Jacques Brinon, AP)

French firefighters stand next to their truck as a fire engulfs the top floor of Paris’ Ritz Carlton hotel. (Jacques Brinon, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Paris - A major fire on Tuesday ravaged a section of the landmark Paris Ritz hotel, which has been closed for over three years for renovations and had been set to reopen in March, the fire service said.

The fire broke out at around 07:00 (06:00 GMT) on the top floor of the luxury hotel, vividly remembered by many as the place where Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed dined before their fatal car crash in 1997.

Firefighters brought the blaze under control several hours later but were battling to extinguish flames in the attic, said fire services spokesman Yvon Bot.

"We are having to go metre by metre from the roof. It is too small to access from the interior," he said. The operation is expected to last several hours.

Bot said no one was in the five-star hotel aside from the around 150 construction workers who were evacuated from the site, and there were no casualties, but a "large" part of the building was affected.

A column of smoke could be seen rising above Paris from the hotel's location on the Place Vendome, in the heart of the city's luxury district near the Opera Garnier.

About 60 firefighters and around 15 fire engines were dispatched to the blaze.

Police reported a "major fire" on their Twitter account and advised motorists to avoid the area. Several streets were closed around the square.

The classically styled hotel, owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed, has undergone top-to-bottom renovations after promising a "legend to be reborn" when it closed for the works in 2012.

The hotel founded by Swiss entrepreneur Cesar Ritz in 1898 is storied as the lodging of choice of Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway, who has a small bar named after him.

"When I dream of afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz," Hemingway once said of the hotel that inspired the word "ritzy".

The American writer famously rallied a group of Resistance fighters to go and liberate his beloved hotel which had been requisitioned in June 1940 by the Nazis and occupied by German brass including on occasions Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels.

However, he was too late as the Nazis had already left, so he took to the bar where he is said to have run up a tab for 51 dry Martinis.

In more recent history, however, the Ritz has become known as the place where Britain's Princess Diana spent her last hours before a car accident in a tunnel in the French capital while being chased by paparazzi.

The refurbishment of the hotel, estimated at $150m in 2012, was aimed at sprucing up the ageing hotel to cater to the tastes of its mega-rich clientele.

Read more on:    france

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.