1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Swiss cheese depot fire destroys 12,000 wheels of Gruyere

Jon Shelton
March 3, 2023

The fire broke out in a storage area and later engulfed the entire building. Seven workers were treated and the building and its inventory were lost.

A firefighter sprays water on the smoldering remains of a Swiss cheese factory
Fire spread from the basement and smoke billowed above the town as residents were told to stay indoorsImage: Anthony Anex/KEYSTONE/picture alliance

Firefighters in the Swiss canton of Freiburg put out the last embers of a warehouse fire Friday but not after it had destroyed the building and the 12,000 wheels of Gruyere cheese inside.

Authorities say the fire broke out in the storage basement of a 5,575 square meter (60,000 square foot) warehouse in Vuisternens-en-Ogoz — roughly 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of Bern — Thursday before spreading to engulf the entire facility.

Witnesses claimed hearing explosions as a large cloud of smoke blanketed the area, traffic was rerouted and water service was interrupted into Friday as small fires inaccessible to firemen due to a collapsed roof, continued to burn.

Residents were instructed to keep doors and windows closed as well as conserving water before the all clear was later given late Thursday evening.

Some 150 firefighters, police and medical personnel were at the scene. Twenty-five individuals were evacuated and seven were treated for possible smoke inhalation. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

Late Thursday, Freiburg police confirmed the entire building and its contents had been lost and announced an investigation had been launched. Total damages said authorities, could not yet be calculated.

A cheesemaker at the scene told the local La Liberte newspaper, "I guess we lost about 12,000 wheels of Gruyere."

A representative from the Migros Cooperative, which owned half the cheese in the building, said the supply of Gruyere to Migros supermarkets would not be affected.

Wheels of Gruyere cheese seen on a set of wooden shelves
Gruyere is an extremely popular Swiss cheese and a key ingredient for making fondueImage: Reuhl/Fotostand/picture alliance