Waffle factory fire 'most Belgian thing ever'

BRUSSELS: A fire at a waffle factory sent a huge cloud of smoke over Brussels on Thursday, disrupting trains to London and Paris and sparking warnings to stay indoors.

Fifty firefighters tackled the blaze at the Milcamps factory, which produces several varieties of a delicacy regarded as one of Belgium's national dishes.

Officials said the fire was caused by a malfunction in an oven cooling system and destroyed most of the factory. There were no casualties.

Belgian authorities sent out emergency text message alerts to residents telling them to stay indoors and close doors and windows to keep out fumes.

All rail traffic was briefly halted from the busy Gare du Midi station, where Eurostar trains to London and Thalys trains to Amsterdam and Paris operate from.

Eurostar apologised to passengers whose train was delayed by the blaze.

"Your departure is held due to a fire at a waffle factory near the tracks, and we're awaiting clearance from the authorities before we can proceed," it said, before announcing later that services had resumed.

Several social media users dubbed the event "the most Belgian thing ever", referring to the national obsession with waffles (along with beer and chips).

Waffle vans can be found in parks and on street corners throughout Belgium. The snack is often eaten with cream and chocolate sauce.

Milcamps's website says its products include both of the two main types of waffles — square, lighter Belgian waffles and round, sugary Liege waffles. — AFP