Paris firefighter, 24, dies fighting blaze in underground car park amid deadly France riots

3 July 2023, 08:01 | Updated: 3 July 2023, 16:06

Riots have continued for another night in France
Riots have continued for another night in France. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

A 24-year-old firefighter has been killed during the France riots as he tackled a blaze in an underground car park.

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His death came as politicians urged people to stay at home while the family of the teenager whose death sparked the rampages called for peace.

Gerald Darmanin, the interior minister, said: "Overnight, while fighting against a blaze involving several vehicles in an underground car park in Saint-Denis, a young Corporal-Chief of the Paris Fire Brigade died despite very rapid treatment by his teammates."

He added: "All my sincere and saddened condolences to his family, loved ones, comrades and to the BSPP [Paris Fire Brigade]."

France endured a sixth night of rioting on Sunday, as the country's mayors called for people to gather together in opposition to the violence and looting.

There were strong signs that the rioting is already slowing down, with 78 arrests on Sunday night, compared to 1,000 on Friday night.

Riots have spread in the country after the fatal police shooting of French-Algerian teenager Nahel Merzouk, 17, in a Paris suburb on Tuesday.

French mayors called for a "mobilisation of citizens for a return to republican order", adding in their statement that "communes everywhere in France are the scene of serious unrest, which targets republican symbols with extreme violence".

It comes after protesters rammed a car into the home of Paris' mayor over the weekend in what he described as an "assassination attempt".

The 78 arrests made across France on Sunday was down significantly from 719 arrests on Saturday. More than 3,000 people have been arrested since the riots began last week.

Nahel's grandmother has told news channel BFM TV she wants the riots to stop, saying “we don't want them to destroy shops, buses and schools," Nadia told French media.

Read more: France travel advice: Is it safe to go and where are the riots happening?

Read more: Why are people rioting in France? The reason behind the French protests

"They are using Nahel as an excuse."

She also said her daughter, Nahel’s mother, no longer has a life after her son was shot dead.

"Nahel is dead, he's dead," she said. "My daughter is lost... She doesn't have a life any more.”

The moment Nahel, 17, was shot dead by police in France
The moment Nahel, 17, was shot dead by police in France. Picture: Social Media

British holidaymakers are being urged not to cancel summer holidays to France despite widespread riots - with experts saying people should try to stay ‘flexible’ and avoid big cities during the night.

UK travellers are being told to be aware of ‘potential disruption’ but there are no advisories not to travel to the country.

British holidaymakers are being told to regularly check the FCDO website for updated advice. Meanwhile, a travel expert told the Telegraph that people should not cancel trips as they are unlikely to be covered by their insurance unless the FCDO advise changes - and stand to lose substantial sums of money.

Paul Charles, found of The PC Agency travel consultancy, said: "My advice would be to stay clear for the moment of big cities in the evenings, make sure you are not going to areas where there is likely to be large protests taking place and seek advice from the hotel you are staying in or from local websites which are being updated about the situation.”

Nahel's funeral took place yesterday in the suburbs of the city, as protestors once again took to the streets.

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Municipal police officers stand in front of the damaged home of the Mayor of l'Hay-les-Roses Vincent Jeanbrun, in l'Hay-les-Roses, a suburb of Paris on July 2, 2023
Municipal police officers stand in front of the damaged home of the Mayor of l'Hay-les-Roses Vincent Jeanbrun, in l'Hay-les-Roses, a suburb of Paris on July 2, 2023. Picture: Getty

Several police officers and officials have been attacked during the unrest, including Vincent Jeanbrun, mayor of L'Haÿ-les-Roses - - an area close to Paris-Orly Airport - whose house was rammed by the car.

Mr Jeanbrun was at his office at the time of the incident and said the car was driven into the house before being set alight as his wife and children slept.

Releasing a statement to social media, Mayor Jeanbrun described the incident as a “milestone" that "was reached in horror” as he labelled the ram-raid an assassination attempt.

"At 1:30 in the morning, while I was, as for 3 nights, at City Hall, individuals rammed my home with a car before setting it on fire to set fire to my house, in which my wife and two young children were sleeping.

He added: "Trying to protect them and escape the attackers, my wife and one of my children were injured.

"It was an attempt to assassinate unspeakable cowardice."

Read more: Macron axes Germany trip amid unrest in France over cop killing of 17-year-old - as Foreign Office issues travel advice

Read more: Hundreds arrested as rioters raid gun store and arm themselves with rifles amid fourth night of anarchy in France

"If my priority today is to take care of my family, my determination to protect and serve the Republic is greater than ever.

"I would like to thank the law enforcement and rescue services for their intervention and more generally for their courage in the difficult times we are going through."

Vincent Jeanbrun took to Twitter to announce the assassination attempt in Paris
Vincent Jeanbrun took to Twitter to announce the assassination attempt in Paris. Picture: Twitter / Vincent Jeanbrun

"I don't have words strong enough to describe my emotion in the face of the horror of this night. But the only way to make what is unacceptable bearable is that all this did not happen for nothing," he added.

It followed the news President Emmanuel Macron had scrapped a planned state visit to Germany yesterday, as riots continue across France.

The Foreign Office has also warned tourists traveling to France that authorities "may impose curfews" following a fourth night of unrest - despite President Macron resisting such calls.

Describing the location of riots as "unpredictable" they added that it was "more important than ever" to get travel insurance before visiting.

People ride their bicycles past a burned van and destroyed urban items on the aftermath of protests in Colombes, outside Paris, Saturday, July 1, 2023.
People ride their bicycles past a burned van and destroyed urban items on the aftermath of protests in Colombes, outside Paris, Saturday, July 1, 2023. Picture: LBC / Alamy

"Since 27 June, riots have taken place across France. Many have turned violent. Shops, public buildings and parked cars have been targeted," the UK foreign office said in updated advice.

"There may be disruptions to road travel and local transport provision may be reduced. Some local authorities may impose curfews.

"Locations and timing of riots are unpredictable" they noted, adding tourists should "monitor the media, avoid areas where riots are taking place, check the latest advice with operators when travelling and follow the advice of the authorities."

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