Cuba still fighting massive blaze after lightning strikes Matanzas Supertanker Base

cuba fire after lightning strike august 2022

A large fire that started in Cuba after lightning struck a crude oil storage tank at Matanzas Supertanker Base on Friday, August 5, 2022, is still not under control. According to the initial reports, 1 firefighter has been killed while at least 16 other firefighters are still missing. 122 people were injured, of which 5 critically.

The fire started after lightning struck a storage tank during a thunderstorm on Friday evening, and the fire spread to a second tank early Saturday morning, August 6, causing a sequence of explosions.

Authorities said on Sunday that a 60-year-old fireman identified as Juan Carlos Santana had been discovered dead at the scene. Officials had earlier reported that 17 firemen had vanished while attempting to extinguish a fire, but it was unknown if he was among them.1

A total of 4 946 people had been evacuated, mostly from the Dubrocq neighborhood, next to the oil farm – used for electricity production.

On Sunday, August 7, local media claimed that the fire had spread to a third of the base’s eight tanks, but officials denied the claims.

While that potential exists, firefighters are currently receiving assistance from special teams from Mexico and Venezuela, with the hope of dropping enough chemical products to smother the flames.2

According to the Ministry of Science and Technology, the dense black cloud which is spreading for hundreds of kilometers to the west, including over Havana, contains sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and other harmful compounds.

Unrelated to the fire, the country is currently facing a serious economic and energy crisis, with regular power outages.

The event took place just one day after lightning struck near the White House, U.S., killing 3 people who were riding out the storm under a tree.

The number of this year’s lighting deaths in the U.S. now stands and 12. The average over the past 10 years is 16 through August 4.

References:

1 Firefighters battle big blaze at Cuba tank farm for 2nd day – AP – August 7, 2022

2 At risk of explosion third tank in Supertanker Base of Matanzas – Cuba Detail Zero – August 7, 2022

Featured image credit: Miami Herald (stillshot)

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