Fire paralyses traffic in and out of Montparnasse train station
A major fire in the Paris suburbs paralyzed traffic in and out of the city's Montparnasse train station today, just as thousands of French travelers head off on their holidays this weekend.
Photos and videos posted on Twitter showed a massive plume of smoke rising into the skies from an electrical center run by the national transport network in Versailles, southwest of the city.
The blaze shut down traffic just before noon at Montparnasse, the main station connecting Paris to the west and southwest France, with rail operator SNCF warning of heavy disruption for the rest of the day.
The station in southern Paris, which in the midst of a heatwave is sweltering in temperatures of 35 degree Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), was crowded with stranded passengers staring up at the departure boards.
SNCF official Patrick Jeantet said the electrical center hit by the fire was a crucial site which controls Montparnasse's safety installations.
Authorities were seeking to reroute some trains to another main station, Austerlitz, he added.
The shutdown came just as the French capital empties out for August when many Parisians traditionally head to the beach or countryside for much of the month.
Montparnasse station was the scene of similar transport chaos almost exactly a year ago when a giant signaling failure caused three days of heavy disruption.
Travelers crossing between France and Britain were also suffering disruption Friday, as the heatwave prompted delays in the Channel Tunnel.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)