Warehouse fire ignites at world’s largest produce market, Paris
A billowing column of dark smoke towered over Paris on Sunday, 25 September 2022, from a warehouse blaze at a massive produce market that supplies the French capital and surrounding region with much of its fresh food and bills itself as the largest of its kind in the world. Fire fighters urged people to stay away from the area in Paris’ southern suburbs, as 100 officers and 30 fire engines battled the blaze at the Rungis International Market.
Captain Marc Le Moine, a spokesman for the Paris fire service, said no one was injured. The fire was brought under control and there was no risk of it spreading from the soccer field-sized warehouse, covering an area of 7 000 square metres, he said.
The cause of the blaze was unknown but will be investigated, he added.
The sprawling wholesale market is a veritable town unto itself, with more than 12 000 people working there and warehouses filled with fruit and vegetables, seafood, meats, dairy products and flowers from across France and around the world.
Originally constructed during the 5th century, per Rungis International, the market's history is deeply rooted in the city's antiquity. During the Middle Ages, King Louis VI brought the market to the city's centre, where it was expanded and given the name "Les Halles" in 1181. After a fire in 1811, the market was permanently reconstructed.
The massive Les Halles market went on to become known as the "belly of Paris," as coined by Émile Zola (via Dezeen). With its many buildings offering culinary staples like bread, cheese, eggs, butter, and more, hundreds of thousands of tons of fruits and vegetables passed underneath Les Halles' glass roof and through its column-lined alley each year. However, the city's traffic quickly made it difficult to access, and it was decided that the market would be moved outside of Paris. In 1959, Rungis, a 578-acre structure in the southern suburbs, was chosen.
Rungis Market opened its doors 10 years later.
Sources: The Associated Press, Tasting Table