Flames rip through Eindhoven building; Unclear if anyone was inside as NL-Alerts sent

Over 100 firefighters were battling an intense fire in a vacant building in Eindhoven on Saturday evening. It was not immediately known if anyone was trapped in the building on Lichtstraat, which was expected to be completely destroyed in the incident. The smoke generated led authorities to distribute two regional NL-Alert messages to warn people about the situation in the city center’s Witte Dame neighborhood.

“The fire is raging in an empty building that is often used by the homeless. It is unknown if anyone is still present,” the regional fire brigade said. First responders managed to search part of the building, but had to retreat as the situation became too dangerous. “The building will be partly demolished in order to be able to tackle the seat of the fire in a targeted way,” the fire department said four hours after the fire started.

The fire was first reported at about 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, and the response was quickly scaled up. A Grip 1 regional emergency was declared less than an hour later, a protocol for tackling large incidents that calls for all first responders to unify under a single commanding officer. The alarm was later elevated to a Grip 2, indicating the incident effects a larger area requiring coordination between those battling the fire and municipality leadership.

As large groups gathered to watch the situation unfold on Lichtstraat, authorities asked people to stay away from the area so fire fighters could focus on tackling the blaze. “The expectation is that the smoke in Eindhoven will increase in intensity and size in the near future. Smoke is always unhealthy,” firefighters said close to 8 p.m..

Then, about 90 minutes later, the fire department said, “The building in Eindhoven will be completely lost, we will let it burn down in a controlled manner. It is expected that it will take a longer time before we are finished.”

A first NL-Alert was distributed in the area warning residents and visitors to get out of the smoke, close their windows, shut their doors, and turn off ventilation systems. A second NL-Alert sent out in the Eindhoven area just after 8 p.m. expanded the area of concern. Those in the city center and the area west of there, including Fellenoord, Strijp-S, Centrum, Hurk, and Hanevoet, were cautioned about the fire. The message should also have been received by people at the High Tech Campus and the Maxima Medical Center, as well as residents of Veldhoven.

Outdoor terraces, Bridge Guitar Festival site evacuated; Traffic jams likely

Police circled the area warning people to leave several different neighborhoods because of the dangerous smoke. Eindhovens Dagblaad reported that the terrace at the Radegast was evacuated. The restaurant was hosting an barbecue at the time. A group of people gathered at a mosque near the scene of the blaze also acted swiftly to bring everyone inside and shut all the windows.

The situation also led to the evacuation of a portion of the Bridge Guitar Festival. Performers were set to take the stage in front of the Café Wilhelmina. “The Wilhelminaplein and Café Wilhelmina have been evacuated by order of the fire brigade. Unfortunately, the program at these locations is canceled tonight. The rest of the program at other locations will continue,” the music festival said in a statement.

“It was no longer doable” at Café Wilhelmina, a representative of the café told Omroep Brabant. “The smoke stinks terribly. A very pungent air, which smells like burnt plastic.”

The fire department was concerned about having a sufficient water supply to battle the blaze, and closed parts of De Wal and Keizersgracht to run hoses to the Dommel River. “That will cause traffic jams,” the fire department said.

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