MUMBAI: More than 20 hours after a fire broke out at a high speed diesel tank off the Mumbai coast following a lightning strike, a 50-member team of firemen continued to battle the blaze, an official said on Saturday.
The fire broke out on Friday on the tiny Butcher Island, which serves as an oil terminal for the Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), around eight kilometres in the Arabian Sea off the landmark Gateway of India.
The firefighters had brought the blaze under control, but "excessive heat" led to reignition at the tank around 4.30 am today, the official said.
According to officials, the fire had broken out around 5 pm yesterday when Mumbai and the surrounding areas witnessed thundershowers. However, no causality was reported.
"Excessive heat caused reignition around 4.30 am today. 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.
He said firefighters of MbPT as well as the fire brigade team are working in tandem to douse the blaze.
According to Rahangdale, fire brigade personnel involved in the firefighting operation through the night have been relieved and new staff staff have been deployed there.
"There has been a good coordination between Mumbai fire brigade personnel and the MbPT fire service team. The fire brigade team had reached around 10 feet near the blaze-hit tank, but reignition at dawn has posed a new challenge before us. However, the blaze is under control," he said.
"I am monitoring the operation. Because of the heat, the foam (used as an extinguisher) is not settling down, this is causing reignition. But overall, the situation is under control," Rahangdale said but did not specify how long the firefighting operation would continue.
"Our main challenge is to keep the other tanks near the affected one safe. So, on one hand our firemen are involved in cooling operations to keep other tanks safe, while on the other, they are also engaged in dousing the flames," he told PTI.
Butcher Island houses a marine oil terminal of MbPT.
Oil tankers discharge crude at the terminal, and it is transported to refineries at nearby Mahul through submerged pipelines, port officials said.
After the fire broke out, vessels in the vicinity of the island have been moved to a distance as a precautionary measure.
A BPCL spokesperson had said yesterday that a lightning strike amid thundershowers was the apparent cause behind the fire. "A diesel tank caught fire due to the lightning and thundershowers," he had said.
Manohar Rao, executive director and head of safety, BPCL, had said that prima facie, the cause of the fire was lightning, though further probe will be carried out on Saturday.
(With IANS inputs)