comscore Raging fire consumes 4th tank at Cuba oil storage facility | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Top News

Raging fire consumes 4th tank at Cuba oil storage facility

  • POOL PHOTO / AP
                                Smoke continues to billow from a days-long, deadly fire at a large oil storage facility in Matanzas, Cuba, Tuesday, Aug. 9. The fire was triggered by lighting at one of the facility’s eight tanks late Friday, Aug. 5th.

    POOL PHOTO / AP

    Smoke continues to billow from a days-long, deadly fire at a large oil storage facility in Matanzas, Cuba, Tuesday, Aug. 9. The fire was triggered by lighting at one of the facility’s eight tanks late Friday, Aug. 5th.

HAVANA >> Flames engulfed a fourth tank at an oil storage facility in western Cuba on Tuesday as the raging fire consumes critical fuel supplies on an island grappling with a growing energy crisis.

Firefighters and specialists from Mexico and Venezuela helped fight the blaze in the province of Matanzas with boats, planes and helicopters as they sprayed foam on the containers, a first for crews since broiling temperatures had prevented them from doing so earlier.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said crews have taken control of the area where the fire is burning and are taking further steps to quell it.

“They are not easy tasks,” he said. “It is an intense and complex incident.”

The fire at the Matanzas Supertanker Base has killed at least one person and injured 125 others, with another 14 firefighters still missing. It also forced officials to evacuate more than 4,900 people and shut down a key thermoelectric plant on Monday after it ran out of water, sparking concerns about additional blackouts.

Those injured were treated mostly for burns and smoke inhalation. More than 20 remain hospitalized, with five of them in critical condition.

“This situation has us very worried at the moment because there are problems with electricity, with the environment, with the people who are still living here,” said Adneris Diaz, a 22-year-old cafe owner.

The eight-tank facility plays a crucial role in Cuba’s electric system: it operates an extensive oil pipeline that receives Cuban crude oil that is then ferried to thermoelectric plants that produce electricity. It also serves as the unloading and transshipment center for imported crude oil, fuel oil and diesel.

The facility caught on fire late Friday after lightning struck one of its tanks, sparking several explosions as it spread over the weekend. The first tank was at 50% capacity and contained nearly 883,000 cubic feet (25,000 cubic meters) of fuel. The second tank was full.

Officials have yet to provide an estimate of damages.

The blaze comes just days after the government announced scheduled blackouts for the capital of Havana amid a sweltering summer.

“The economic effects are clear,” said Tahimi Sanchez, a 48-year-old cafe owner. “They are there, we will notice them and we will see them, but we are confident, and we are going to come out of all this well.”

Comments (0)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up