Firefighters finally gained control over another major fire to break out in the historic west coast city of Bergen during the night. It took nearly three hours to contain the blaze in an area with many wooden houses.
“This has been an extremely demanding fire for us, and one of the toughest I’ve ever been involved with,” said acting Bergen fire chief Frode Bødtker on state broadcaster NRK’s morning newscast. That remark came after another major blaze in Bergen late this spring and a history of fires that also have threatened the city’s historic wooden waterfront known as Bryggen.
Started in residential area
The first alarms about Thursday’s fire, which started in a residential area on Kong Oscars Gate in downtown Bergen, came in around 4:30am, reported NRK. It was quickly defined as a storbrann (major fire) as heavy smoke descended on the area.
Around 50 people were evacuated from their homes and a 17-year-old boy was sent to hospital, suffering from smoke inhalation. That was the only reported injury, however, and all the residents of the burning buildings escaped.
As is often the case in Bergen’s historic downtown with its narrow streets and alleys, access was difficult for emergency crews responding to the blaze. “It was very hard to get to the buildings and several were on fire,” Bødtker said. “Luckily we managed to contain the fire to three buildings.”
Evacuees were assembled in a bus and taken to a local hotel for breakfast. Crisis teams were on hand for those needing help as they tackled the loss or extensive damage to their homes. Many residents were awakend by uniformed firefighters wearing gas masks who were pounding on their doors and calling for them to “wake up, wake up, get out of your homes now,” according to one 32-year-old man who fled the fire.
It was the latest trouble to hit Bergen after a year of setbacks including political scandal, harsh criticism of the police, other fires and even a major fall from glory for its local football team, ironically named Brann (Fire). The cause of the fire was unknown.