The Fire of 1999 : the facts
24 March 1999 : a duty to remember a fire of unprecedented scale in this type of structure
On the 24 March 1999, a heavy goods vehicle carrying flour and margarine came to a stop in the Mont Blanc Tunnel. The lorry was on fire – a fire that then spread to the vehicles behind. It took two days to bring it under control. The fire was on an unprecedented scale, claiming 39 lives (37 customers, an employee of the Italian company and a fireman from Chamonix).
A compensation fund for families of 27 million euros
A memorandum of understanding was signed by all parties, including ATMB, to enable all those with a claim to receive fair compensation. A fund of 27 million euros was set up.
Criminal proceedings: ATMB accepts its responsibility, it did not ask for charges to be dropped nor appeal the verdict
Following the criminal investigation, 13 individuals and 4 companies including ATMB and SGTMB appeared in court. The trial took place between 31 January and 29 April 2005 at the High Court in Bonneville. Seven ATMB and SITMB employees , the driver of the HGV, Volvo, the mayor of Chamonix and a senior official of the Ministry of Public Works were also found guilty. ATMB did not appeal the verdict.
“ATMB has a duty to the families of the victims to accept its responsibility. It also owes it to the 600 members of staff that are employed today on motorway and tunnel safety”, Jean-Paul Chaumont, Managing Director of ATMB, explains.
The New Mont Blanc Tunnel : a rebuilt structure, and personnel working with one aim constantly in mind: safety
“All the work undertaken by ATMB and its staff is guided by one constant concern: safety. Bringing the tunnel under the guardianship of a single French-Italian entity, appointing a new management team… all these changes have been brought about through learning the lessons of the past. As well as restructuring the company, safety standards in the tunnel have been completely overhauled. Today, putting safety top of the agenda means constant reassessment and constant vigilance at every level of ATMB”, Jean-Paul Chaumont adds.