A fire has destroyed the popular Lognan cable car at the Grands Montets station in the Argentière valley. The fire has gutted the mid-station and caused five of the eight cables to melt, resulting in one cabin falling onto the glacier below. Fortunately, nobody was harmed in the incident since the lift was closed due to routine maintenance.
A press release from the Compagnie du Mont Blanc, who operate the lifts in the Massif and Chamonix valley, reads:
'In the early afternoon of Tuesday 11th September, a fire broke out during work to repair the roofing of the upper station of the 1st cable-car between Argentière & Lognan (Les Grands Montets ski area). This work was entrusted to a specialist sub-contractor.
The fire spread almost instantaneously throughout all the buildings of the arrival station, creating severe damage to the infrastructures of the two cable-cars.
Of the eight cables which equip the two sections of the cable-car, five gave way as a result of the heat generated by the fire causing one cabin at the top of the Grands Montets to plunge onto the glacier below, the second cabin being immobilised on its bearer cables.
As far as the lower section between Argentière & Lognan is concerned, one cabin is retained by its bearer cable & the other by the tractor cable.
The investigations will continue during the coming days before the reconstruction work may begin, work which will take a good number of months.
To face up to this new ordeal, the teams at the Grands Montets with the backing of all the staff of the Compagnie du Mont-Blanc, will make every effort to permit visitors & partners to access the two cables car of the Grands Montets ski area as soon as possible.'
The CMB maintains that the Grands Montets ski area will be open for the winter season with access via the Plan Joran gondola. Skiing will be permitted on the Lognan plateau with the new chair-lift giving access to the new beginners' area, in addition to all the pistes accessible from the Bochard gondola and the Herse and Retour Pendant chair-lifts.
The fire is yet another blow for the Compagnie du Mont Blanc this year. The top section of the Aiguille du Midi lift - from Plan de l'Aiguille to the Midi - was closed in May for repairs before reopening for the summer. In August, it was announced that the top lift would be closed again due to the same cable fault occurring. The CMB released a statement yesterday announcing that access to the Aiguille du Midi top station will be closed to the public throughout this autumn in order to change the cable, with reopening expected in December this year. The bottom lift to the Plan de l'Aiguille will remain open until further notice.
Le Tour/Charamillon lifts also remain closed due to a fault, and the Planpraz lift was closed temporarily in August. The Panoramic Mont Blanc lift remains closed following significant cable damage in storms last winter.