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24 juli 2003
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Eiffel Tower reopens after fire

PARIS, France -- The Eiffel Tower has reopened after an electrical fire broke out the night before near the top of the popular tourist landmark, forcing thousands of people to be evacuated.

Visitors were admitted to the two lower observation decks on Wednesday morning, while workers cleaned debris from the third and highest deck after Tuesday night's fire, said an official from the company that runs the Eiffel Tower.

The tower's 276-meter-high (828-foot-high) third floor, where the fire occurred, was expected to reopen later in the day, the official said according to The Associated Press.

The fire, which erupted in a third-floor telecommunications room, sent a thick column of gray smoke from the top of the Eiffel Tower -- the highest structure in Paris' skyline.

The fire occurred at the highest level accessible to tourists but in an area sealed off from the public. Fire crews brought the blaze under control as a Civil Protection helicopter hovered overhead.

The fire was out within in an hour and no one was injured.

Initial plans to immediately reopen the monument's lower floors to late-night visitors Tuesday were delayed until Wednesday morning.

The attraction stays open to visitors until midnight in the summer.

On Tuesday evening the 20,000 sparkling bulbs that weave through the iron lattice work were turned on for the usual 10-minute hourly show.

Officials praised the quick work by firefighters in extinguishing the blaze. About 100 firefighters were at the site shortly after the fire was reported at 7:21 p.m. local time (01721 GMT).

A stream of up to 4,000 visitors was evacuated, as smoke poured from the third floor, police told CNN.

Jean-Paul Proust, the Paris police chief, said the fire was electrical in nature but that authorities did not know the cause. An investigation is under way.

The same portion of the 325 meter (975 foot) tower caught fire in 1956, destroying the structure's summit.

The tower, named after its architect Gustav Eiffel, has had more than 200 million visitors since it opened at the World Fair in 1889.

It attracts six million visitors a year, making it the world's most popular paying tourist attraction.

Bron: CNN

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