A fire at Beirut port on Thursday sent up a large column of black smoke into the sky over the Lebanese capital a little more than a month since a massive blast devastated the port facilities and surrounding area.
A military source said early indications suggested the blaze started when cooking oil in the port area caught fire and spread to stores of tires. At one point, live television footage showed flames licking up near a pile of tires in a smashed warehouse.
Army helicopters dropped water on the fire, as firefighters battled the blaze on the ground.
Governor of Beirut Marwan Abboud urged citizens not to come near the port in order to preserve their safety, and not to hinder the work of firefighters, Lebanon’s state news agency NNA reported.
The fire was at a warehouse where tires are placed, according to NNA.
First Lieutenant in the Beirut Fire Brigade, Michel Al-Murr, confirmed to Arab News that the fire took place in the duty-free area of the port where tires and oil are stored.
“We do not yet know the cause of the fire, but our priority is putting out the fire immediately,” Al-Murr said.
Firefighters were shown in television footage dousing the port fire surrounded by mangled remains of warehouses destroyed in last month’s explosion, which was caused by a store of ammonium nitrate that had been kept in poor condition at the port for years.
Lebanese TV stations quoted workers in Beirut’s port saying that “work was underway to open passages within one of the Beirut Cargo Center’s hangars in order to remove all remaining goods and clean the place.”
They added that they were cutting through the iron doors using a “fire-cutting machine” which led to the outbreak of the fire in the warehouse.
The fire sparkied alarm among Lebanese still reeling from a devastating dockside explosion that disfigured the capital last month.
The Aug. 4 explosion killed more than 190 people, injured around 6,500 and damaged thousands of buildings in the Lebanese capital.
The sight of another huge fire a month later created panic among residents traumatized by last month’s explosion.
© 2020 the Arab News
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