TANK FARM FIRE – A fire incident which occurred in a tank farm at the Calabar Free Zone Enterprise (FZE) in Cross River State on July 16, 2017, has claimed the lives of many while injuring several others, BuzzNigeria can report.
Those who sustained severe injuries were taken to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH).
Calabar FZE in Esuk Utan Community is host to several tank farms and it was reported that the fire outbreak was due to illegal activities in one of the tank farms.
What Caused the Tank Farm Fire?
According to The Nation, a vessel was supplying Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol, to two of the tank farms around 2 am.
The ship, which was on the river nearby was supplying the product through pipes that passed through the premises of both tank farms – a distance of about 1 kilometer.
While supplying was in progress, a staff of one of the farms, identified as Sunny, who was not on duty that night, opened the pipes inside their premises to siphon petrol. It was believed he was working with others and had been successful for a while until the pressure from where he was siphoning from knocked him down.
However, it could not be ascertained what caused this. He reportedly died on the spot.
BuzzNigeria learned the petrol spilled across the entire area and flowed through gutters back into the river and into the Esuk Utan community, the host community.
Residents reportedly woke up to the strong fumes some decided to scoop the product for themselves, but unfortunately, a fire was ignited and estimatedly killed six persons.
Also, the fire followed the petrol through the gutters back to the vessel, but men on board managed to stop the fire from engulfing the vessel, using sophisticated fire-fighting equipment.
More reports from eyewitnesses said a fishing settlement which serves as a fish market on the waterfront nearby was not so lucky – the tank farm fire razed on and seven people, who lived there, died. Several wooden canoes and engine boats were also caught in the inferno; while three vessels in the adjoining Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) were affected by the fire.
Several wooden canoes and engine boats were also caught in the inferno; while three vessels in the adjoining Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) were affected by the fire.
A staff of one of the tank farms, who pleaded anonymity said:
“Almost 30 people that we have been able to confirm have died. So many have severe injuries and have been rushed to the hospital. I saw someone whose entire legs had melted in the fire. It was only his bones that were sticking out. I do not know if he would survive. It was very horrible.
“There was fire everywhere. Nobody knew where they would run to. Many other companies in this vicinity and even inside the NPA have had one equipment or the other affected by the fire.
“The truth is that they were doing an illegal business there; there was no safety measure at all that is why the situation got out of hand. If it was a normal operation, I believe it could have been contained easily. It is something they have been doing all the time, but today was bad luck for them.
“Despite what has happened, I can say it is just fortunate that the tank farms themselves did not blow up, thanks to the sophisticated fire-fighting equipment they have here because the impact would have been like that of an atomic bomb. If that had happened, there is no community around us that would not have been severely affected.”
The Cross Rivers state Commissioner of Police, Hafiz Inuwa said his men were on ground when the fire was raging and tried to put out the fire as well as cordoned the area so hoodlums would not take advantage of the situation to loot.
While the state’s Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Itaya Nyong, who was at the scene of the incident, confirmed that the fire was as a result of the activities of criminal elements who were siphoning petrol from the tank farm.
He said they were colluding with some security officials to carry out the nefarious act. According to the commissioner, nine people are confirmed dead in the tank farm fire and many others who sustained different burns are currently receiving treatment in one of the hospitals around town.
Inuwa also said investigation would be launched and culprits brought to book.