The fire that engulfed the Lognan cable car mid-station in Chamonix yesterday has been described as a ‘big, big disaster’ by Compagnie du Mont Blanc president, Mathieu Dechavanne. The lift, which connects Argentiere and Les Grands Montets ski area, was severely damaged.
‘The fire took hold quickly and progressed into the lift building. No one has been injured which is the good news. It’s a big, big disaster.’
The fire started just as maintenance work was getting underway. Flames rapidly spread across the roof and the wooden structure, also home to storerooms, restaurants, and toilets even though helicopters and firefighters arrived at the scene shortly after the fire started, there was nothing that they could do. Luckily, nobody was injured.
The Lognan cable car has been severely damaged both on the section that links Argentiere and the mid-station and from the mid-station to the summit at 10,827-feet (3,300m). Five of the eight cables that support it melted and snapped due to the extremely high temperatures, sending gondolas crashing to the valley below.
But despite these damages, the Grands Montets ski area will open this winter season. The Plan Joran lift will provide access from Argentiere while the new beginner’s area, as well as the Bochard, Herse and Retour Pendant lifts, will be available. Repairs will last ‘many months’ as it will be necessary to change the load-bearing cables and replace the cable cars that were affected by the flames.
The fire marks the second lift-related incident in Chamonix this year. The Aiguille du Midi cable car was shut down in July after a defective cable was discovered.