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One of Eiffel Tower’s Top Floors on Fire

July 22, 2003

PARIS (AP) _ One of the top levels of the Eiffel Tower caught fire on Tuesday, officials said. A limited amount of smoke could be seen rising from the famous Paris monument.

The company that operates the Eiffel Tower confirmed the fire but gave no details as to its origin and had no information about whether anyone may have been injured in the relatively small blaze affecting only the tip of the structure.

The tower has six levels; tourists can visit the three lowest levels; the fire occurred one level above those accessible to visitors, according to Eiffel Tower security.

Thick grey smoke began to taper off shortly after the fire was reported. LCI television said the flames may have erupted in an area housing TV and radio equipment.

Fire trucks and rescue vehicles gathered at the base of the tower. Streams of visitors were filing out of the tower after being evaculated.

A red helicopter swooped around the tower, appearing to inspect the lower floors. Police blocked off access as tourists waited on the grass below, taking photographs or peering up through binoculars.

The same portion of the tower caught fire in 1956, destroying the structure’s summit.

The 1,069-foot iron-laced tower draws 6 million visitors a year, making it the world’s most popular paying tourist attraction. The tower was built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World’s Fair.

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