Bill Gates-Backed Food Center Burned to the Ground, Fire Might Have Been Sparked by Electric Delivery Van

A distribution center belonging to a Bill Gates-funded online supermarket in the Dutch city of Almelo caught fire Sunday night.

The fire destroyed the Picnic facility, although the local fire brigade quickly responded to the inferno, local newspaper Tubantia reported.

The fire brigade is investigating the incident.

While the fire is still investigated, there is speculation that the blaze began with a short circuit in one of the electric delivery vehicles parked in the facility, according to Tubantia.

The fire quickly became large, with flames reaching up to several meters high.

Fortunately, authorities were able to stop it from spreading and reaching the facility of a neighboring business.

Surrounding roads were shut as authorities deployed a team of 40 firefighters and resources from all over the region to fight the inferno, Tubantia reported.

There were no traces of hazardous substances when the fire service carried out measurements at the site, according to Tubantia.

No injuries were reported, authorities said, according to the outlet.

Founded in 2015, Picnic soon became a revolutionary service, disrupting the supermarket industry by allowing users to order their groceries and other supermarket purchases online in one place.

Traditional delivery formats follow the “taxi-model,” where a user orders something and gets it delivered directly to them.

On the other hand, Picnic uses the “bus-model” or the milkman model, where the delivery truck drives along regular routes and delivers to customers along the way.

As of 2018, just three years from its founding, Picnic controlled around 10 percent of the Dutch online market share, according to reporting from Reuters.

In 2020, investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, put around $605 million into the company to fund its global expansion, DutchNews reported.

Currently, the company services 125 cities in the Netherlands and Germany, according to the outlet.

The Almelo facility employed around 60 workers and serviced Zeearend, Almelo and other nearby areas, according to DutchNews.

While it has not yet been confirmed that the fire was caused by a short circuit in the electric delivery vans, batteries in electric vehicles are known to be susceptible to fire.

“Hybrid electrics, which have both a high voltage battery and an internal combustion engine, have a 3.4% likelihood of vehicle fires,” a CNBC report in January stated. Fully electric vehicles have just a .03 percent chance of igniting, according to the report; however, it added, ” when fires do occur, electric vehicles with lithium-ion batteries burn hotter, faster and require far more water to reach final extinguishment.”

Reporting from The Western Journal.