Firefighters battled flames at a cooking oil refinery for nearly twelve hours on Saturday in Shershah’s industrial sector of SITE.
Three firemen were hurt fighting the third-degree blaze that gutted the packaging department, destroying billions of rupees worth of raw material, 16kg barrels of oil, and machinery. Fortunately at the time no employees were present. The firemen are out of danger as well but they did receive minor burns.
“We had to bring every fire vehicle from the city, so we had about 50 vehicles there but unfortunately we have been fighting fires in the rest of the city the whole day so it was hard to get there on time,” Feroze Khan a lead firefighter and rescue expert told The Express Tribune. “Neighbourhood vehicles arrived early but it took the rest some time to get there.”
According to Khan, the cause has yet to be determined but was initially thought to be the usual suspect – an electrical short circuit. He added, however, that this doesn’t make sense. According to Khan, the business is owned by a Paracha and processes oil for Meezan.
The packaging department where the fire was centered was tightly packed with material. “We could literally only move two feet at a time because the area was so packed and there was so much smoke, we had to go in with masks,” he said. “But every time we put the fire out, it would reignite. The way the fire was behaving it didn’t look like a short circuit.”
One of the reasons that the fire didn’t spread to the rest of the building, according to Khan, is that the factory had good fire precaution measures in place.
“They had the best system I’ve seen actually. Every single hydrant was working and a big portion of the water we used for all those hours actually came from their water system,” he said.
The other rooms were emptied once the fire broke out and that is why the fire didn’t spread further despite the presence of so much flammable material.
The Pakistan Airforce and civic agencies also sent their fire engines to help.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2012.
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