Heavy fire in the dunes on Belgian coast under control

Heavy fire in the dunes on Belgian coast under control
Emergency services pictured on the scene of fires in the dunes at the Belgian coast in De Haan, caused by the heatwave on Tuesday 19 July 2022. Credit: Belga/Kurt Desplenter

A heavy fire that started in the dunes of the coastal municipality of De Haan on Tuesday afternoon after a car parked nearby caught fire and the spark spread to the dunes, is now under control.

Images on social media showed a large, black plume of smoke seen on the beach of De Haan, due to a fire just beyond the dunes. According to initial reports, the fire started in a parked car.

"The fire is currently under control," acting mayor of De Haan Rudi Cattrisse told Het Laatste Nieuws. "The fire actually started at a parked vehicle, after which several other cars went completely up in flames. The cars were parked along the Koninklijke Baan, right next to the dunes. The blaze then spread to the dunes."

Five cars burned out in the fire, and six others were damaged. The fire brigade is still on the scene to make sure that all fires are out.

"Several fire brigades worked hard to put everything out. A firefighting helicopter is also on its way to cool and humidify the dunes from the air," Cattrisse added.

Due to the warm weather, there are currently a lot of people at the beach. However, it did not need to be evacuated, according to local reports. The fire service arrived en masse, and a police helicopter also surveyed the fire from the air.

"It is a roadside fire over a distance of 200 metres," Chief of Police Eric Van Parijs told VRT. "Large parts have already been extinguished, but an estimated four to five cars remained in the fire. They are still extinguishing them, but we are dealing with a strong land wind."

Several people were taken to hospital because they had inhaled too much smoke, but according to the fire service, they are not badly hurt.

Update: This article was updated to include comments by the acting mayor and the chief of police.

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