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Last week, a big fire inside the old marl mines between Maastricht and Belgium was discovered.
The mergelgrotten or marl caves have been closed (as mines) for many years but still had other uses. The fire is believed to have been started with burning hay that flew towards the caves. It lasted about a week and affected the surrounding areas. People living nearby were geëvacueerd or evacuated because the smoke was just too dangerous to breathe.
After a week of hard work from the hulpdienst or emergency services in the Netherlands and Belgium, the fire is now completely extinguished and two suspects have been arrested. The full damage of the fire is unknown but it is expected to be large. Château Neercanne, a very chique and beautiful restaurant in Maastricht, was significantly affected by the fire. I was there for a wedding a day or two after the fire started and the damage of the smoke was noticeable.
The network of caves in the area is quite impressive. A year ago I visited the area near Sint Petersberg and there is so much history in those caves. There are paintings many artists have created inside the caves. Some areas near Valkenburg are open for team building activities, paintless paintball, laser tag and during Christmas, the kerstmarkt is inside the caves. Another area of the caves in Maastricht still has the remains of the underground city that was to be a shelter during World War II. It had different living areas, a bakery, and a chapel. The historical importance of these caves is enormous.
A video of what the damage looks like now is available via the 1Limburg website.
Have big fires affected your city or country?
de grot– cave
de brand– fire
het hooi– hay
de hulpdienst– emergency services
evacueren– to evacuate
de schade– damage
de rook- the smoke
de vlammen– the flames