Mumbai oil tank fire: Port says need more time to extinguish
October 7, 2017 | 9:27 PM
Fire breaks out at a oil depot on Butcher Island off the coast of Mumbai on Friday. Photo - PTI

Mumbai: Efforts are still on to extinguish the fire that broke out at a fuel tank farm of the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) here on Saturday evening and the residual high-speed diesel is expected to take until Sunday morning to burn out.

The fire had started at an oil tank on Butcher Island off the eastern coast of Mumbai on Friday evening. "The fire is under control, and limited to one tank. As flames rage on top, we are evacuating fuel from the bottom and simultaneously putting water and foam to contain the flames," MbPT deputy chairman Y. A. Wanage told PTI on Saturday evening.

Through the day, fire fighting personnel from multiple agencies continued their efforts to put out the blaze as smoke billowed from the state-run BPCL's tank No 13 on Butcher Island, also called Jawahar Dweep.

Wanage said the 30,000-KL tank, which was filled to capacity when it caught fire at around 4.30pm on Friday, still has 20 per cent fuel at the top. Unless it burns out, the fire can not be doused completely. It will take at least till Sunday morning for the flames to die, he said.

BPCL executive director and head of safety Manohar Rao said an external agency specialising in foam-spraying has been commissioned to help contain the fire faster. Necessary equipment is on the way from Vadodara in Gujarat, he said.

Butcher Island is home to a 'tank farm' housing storage facilities of refining majors as well as that of MbPT. Carriers dock off the island and discharge fuel which is stored and later transported to nearby refineries through submerged pipelines.

Wanage said the fuel in adjoining tanks is also being emptied as a precaution. Port operations, especially on the liquid cargo side, are hit since Friday, and as per the port authorities, they will resume on Sunday, he said.

Both Wanage and Rao said lightning strike was the cause of the fire, even as a detailed inquiry is underway. Mumbai and surrounding areas had received thundershowers on Friday.

Rao said insurance surveyors visited the site on Saturday and both BPCL and the port will be making claims. Tank No 13 will have to be replaced, he said. Officials from the city fire brigade, helped by BPCL's own fire fighting unit and the port's in-house fire fighting personnel are jointly trying to extinguish the blaze.

"Firefighting as well as the cooling operations are on. Foam and other extinguishing agents are being used for the purpose," Mumbai fire brigade chief P. S. Rahangdale said.

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