Fire guts top athletes’ training center

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Fire swept through offices of the training center for Norway’s top athletes during the night, forcing evacuations and severely damaging the center’s administrative wing. Police had a 39-year-old woman in custody on Monday, suspected of setting the fire.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the fire is believed to have started about 9pm in a container near the administrative offices of the center at Sognsvann in Oslo where Norwegian Olympic athletes have trained for years (Toppidrettsentret, Olympiatoppen).

The fire spread through the building and it took a squad of some 30 firefighters responding with 10 vehicles more than three hours to gain control over the blaze. There were no injuries, but an adjacent hotel wing where athletes often stay had to be evacuated.

Sports stars caught in the drama
Among the evacuees was former top alpine skier Andrine Flemmen, who reported seeing flames engulf walls of the building. NRK reported it was just a concidence that top Nordic skier Petter Northug wasn’t at the center when the fire broke out – he had left to attend a dinner at Ullevål and was met by all the police and fire department vehicles when he returned.

The entire men’s national Nordic skiing team is assembled at the training center this week and had been training earlier in the day on the new tracks built at Holmenkollen for the World Championships in February. The skiers have now been moved to a hotel.

Olympiatoppen boss Jarle Aambø said it was sad to see the center burning. “It looks like serious damage, it’s sad to stand here and watch,” he told NRK while firefighters battled the blaze.

No known motive
The adjacent national sports college (Norges Idrettshøgskole) wasn’t damaged in the blaze, and it was expected that staff and athletes could use its facilities as needed, at least on a temporary basis.

The woman charged with setting the fire was arrested based on tips from witnesses on the scene, who suggested she was intoxicated, reported vg.no. Police said they hadn’t been able to question her as of Monday morning, and they had no information on a motive.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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