VISAKHAPATNAM: Huge flames from atop the hillocks, north of the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) Visakha Refinery this evening spread panic in and around Malkapuram area.
A large number of people rushed to the refinery as rumours spread that there was a massive blast at the HPCL site.
It came as a relief to the agitated residents when it was confirmed officially that the flames had nothing to do with the rifinery.
Three hillocks surrounded by bushes around the refinery helped fuel the sparks from the refinery which constantly emits flue gases (waste from the crude) at the Flair Tip (a 100 feet chimney) which is a kilometre away from the refinery. The flue gas continuously burns at the Flair Tip which is a common sight every day. The HPCL pumps out LPG to burn the flue gas in the air.
At around 3 p.m. today, flames from the Flair Tip spread to the dried hay stack and bushes on the hillocks accompanied by squally winds causing an inferno-like situation. As the fire and smoke spread across the hillock, some locals pressed the panic buttons stating that there was a mishap at the refinery.
The HPCL management swung into action to contain the fire.
As the area is inaccesible, the HPCL fire wing personnel and those of Coromandel Fertilisers were pressed into service to extinguish the fire. Speaking to `Express’ HPCL Executive Director PAB Raju denied there was any accident at the refinery.
Smoke on the hillocks behind the refinery