Last Friday was set to be a day of festivities in the small mountain village of Charmey, situated in the heart of the Swiss region of Gruyère in the Fribourg Canton. However, as the community prepared to inaugurate the new cheese cellar “Caves d’Alpage de la Tzintre”, which had just welcomed its first rounds of Vacherin Fribourgeois, one of 22 Swiss Slow Food Presidia projects, tragedy struck.
To the shock of the village, an explosion on the eve of the celebrations caused the building to catch fire while workers were still busy with the final preparations. Four workers were seriously injured and one died.
The fire, which according to the newspaper Le Matin was caused by a
gas leak, was quickly put out by the fire brigade. President of the Fribourg Cooperative of Alpine Cheese Producers André Remy says that while it is too early to understand the extent of the damage, it is undoubtedly significant, but of course “the material consequences are nothing in the face of loss of human life.”
While the community awaits news on the condition of the four injured people, Remy was able to confirm on Monday that the wheels of Gruyère and Vacherin, around 7,000 cheeses according to his estimation, have been preserved. The cellar fan is not working, but for now the temperature and the weather is favorable to maintaining a suitable environment.
Slow Food and the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity express our deepest condolences to the community and affected families.