Montpellier: arson followed by explosion at a former squatted restaurant

Two fires broke out several minutes apart this Thursday, June 2, rue Bertin-Sans near the Saint-Eloi hospital in Montpellier.

The sound of explosions shook the neighborhood. The still sleepy neighbors and the staff of the Saint-Eloi hospital whose entrance is located just opposite the scene of the disaster. Around 7 a.m., the firefighters were first called for a garbage fire that was smoldering in front of the walled facade of the former Bastide restaurant on rue Bertin-Sans, the building. “The firefighters came knocking on my door. I wanted to open my window to see what was going on, they said ‘especially not'”. there were big flames and a lot of smoke”, explains this neighbor, owner of the bar next door. Another resident took out his garden hose while waiting for the arrival of the firefighters and in particular to protect his nearby gas meter Once the fire was easily brought under control, the firefighters left, but a few moments later, a new fire.

“By the time we finished tidying up, I saw smoke again a little further still at the level of the same building”, says this neighbor, between two fits of coughing because of the fumes. Under the effect of the heat, at the level of the old bay window of the Bastide bar, small gas bombs (like those used to make whipped cream or to generate sparkling water) exploded. Shattering several windows, right next to the tram tracks. Luckily no one was injured either by the shrapnel or by the toxic fumes given off by the combustion of mattresses, plastic and metal waste abandoned in the premises.

Squatted for a year and a half

The firefighters then returned with several fire trucks to control the flames which ravaged 20 m2 of premises, strewn with waste.

Two outbreaks of fire in a few minutes at the same address leave little doubt about the voluntary origin of these claims. The police have also opened an investigation.

According to our information, the closed and even walled restaurant has been squatted for almost a year and a half. The occupants regularly enter it with a ladder via the upper part of the building. For several weeks, tensions have appeared between squatters who sleep there. And a quarrel between some would have degenerated this Thursday, June 2.

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