In 1938 tragedy again hit CGT. Lafayette, the largest motor-ship in the French Line’s fleet, was undergoing a refit at Le Havre, and was due to re-enter service on 17th May. Around 9.30pm on 4th May 1938, Lafayette caught fire and burned out at the quayside at Le Havre.
The fire broke out when a furnace was lit, igniting oil and spreading to the adjacent oil tanks. By midnight the First Class area was well ablaze, followed by a series of explosions in the early hours of the morning. During the night the fire was so intense the town was illuminated. At one point the fire trapped fifty firemen and crew, who had to be rescued using emergency ladders.
Later that morning, once the fire was under control, it was clear that the vessel had been completely gutted. She was later declared a total loss and sold for scrapping in Rotterdam. She had to be towed to the scrapyard.