Truck and tunnel fire

Country: Norway  •  Report published: October 3, 2015


Dr. Jon-kenneth Heltne
Haukeland University Hospital

Role in incident
Consultant at the Air Ambulance, one of several HEMS physicians on scene. Took part in the rescue efforts, triage and treatment of victims from Gudvanga tunnel fire.

Summary: Truck and tunnel fire

Truck and tunnel fire in Gudvanga tunnel in Western Norway.

On August 5th 2013 a fire started in a truck inside the Gudvanga tunnel in Western Norway.

The Gudvanga tunnel is the second longest tunnel (11 kilometers) along the ferry free Europe road 16 between Oslo and Bergen. The incident happened in a sparsely populated area 40 kilometers from Voss with 14000 inhabitants, nearest large city Bergen has a population of about 300 000 people. Nearby several beautiful tourist attractions and fjords.

Traffic authorities measured 1995 vehicles per 24 hours in average. There were 66 casualties, all of them taken to nearby hospitals some with serious inhalation injuries, but no fatalities. Although the biggest tunnel fire seen so far it has been hailed a miracle that there were no deaths.

Emergency services communicated via old analogue network and local coverage in the area was poor. Challenges were communication systems not working inside tunnel and 2 evacuation sites, one on each side of tunnel reporting to 2 different dispatch centers. In addition, the electrical system melted and lead to no light or fans working inside the tunnel. Heavy smoke made access difficult.

Effective triage by HEMS, appropriate use of transportation and several hospitals involved in patient distribution made the evacuation successful.

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