hits renovated Paris Ritz weeks before reopening
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[January 19, 2016]
PARIS (Reuters) - Flames ripped
through the top floor of the luxury Ritz Paris hotel on Tuesday, as
around 60 firefighters battled to put out a fire which threatened the
work of a 3-1/2 year restoration program just weeks ahead of a planned
Some 150 workers were evacuated from the site in the chic Place
Vendome square in central Paris at around 0500 GMT (12.00 a.m. ET),
where about 15 fire trucks were on the scene, Paris fire service
spokesman Captain Yvon Bot said on French television.
The cause of the fire, which struck on the seventh floor of the
building and spread through the attic to the roof, was so far
unknown, the official said.
By mid-morning, the fire had been brought under control, he told
"There is no longer any risk of it spreading, but the operation will
still take a very long time," he said. The firemen had great
difficulty accessing the part of the building affected, he said.
The Ritz had no comment as the incident was ongoing. The hotel's
website still indicated on Tuesday it was accepting reservations
again from March 2016.
The former home of fashion designer Coco Chanel and author Marcel
Proust, and a favorite drinking hole of American writer Ernest
Hemingway, the hotel was last renovated over a decade beginning in
1979 after its purchase by tycoon Mohamed Al-Fayed.
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The latest work to restore the Ritz, which opened in 1898 and was
the first Paris hotel to boast electricity on all floors and
bathrooms that were inside rooms, began in August 2012 and is being
overseen by interior architect Thierry W. Despont.
It includes the building of a "discreet tunnel" that will enable the
rich and famous to come and go in privacy. It was at the Ritz that
Diana, Princess of Wales, spent her last night in 1997 before the
car crash that killed her.
(Reporting by James Regan, Myriam Rivet and John Irish; Editing by
Bate Felix, Andrew Callus and Sarah Young)
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