Shortly before 5:00PM thick smoke filled Paris’ Place Vendome known as home for luxury boutiques and the lavish Ritz Hotel.
The smoke emanated from the underground parking entrance located on eastern side of the Place Vendome. According to the police, two or more cars were set ablaze in the second basement of the privately operated Vinci parking.
That floor is used to park the Ritz Hotel - currently closed for renovations - customers’ cars. Online sources mention that luxury cars participating in the Gumball 3000 were parked on that floor.
Offices and stores in the immediate vicinity of the parking were evacuated.
According to the firefighters on the scene, the fire might have been started intentionally and no possibility is excluded at the moment.
A few minutes after 6:00PM stores close to the place Vendome were asked to vacate the premises, the security perimeter was enlarged and the surrounding streets were closed. Police suggested to the store owners to stay clear of windows as more cars caught on fire and it might trigger explosions.
According to the current media reports, two persons were intoxicated by the smoke but did not need to be transported to the hospital.
More than 80 firefighters were called to the scene and do not expect to extinguish the fire before the night.
The Ritz Hotel is not burning down, the fire is contained to the underground parking on the other side of Place Vendôme.
I remained on the scene until 6:30 PM when we were asked to vacate the building.
I witnessed employees from stashing away the jewellery, probably in the boutique's safe, before leaving the premises.