Major fire breaks out at HPCL refinery in Vizag, no casualties reported
A major fire broke out due to a blast in one of the refineries of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam on Tuesday afternoon, HT has learnt.
An HPCL spokesman said the fire broke out in one of the crude processing units of the HPCL at around 3 pm. “Safety measures and firefighting was activated immediately and fire has been extinguished,” he said.
Stating that the cooling operations had been taken up, the spokesman said there were no casualties in the mishap and there was no risk to the public. “The other refinery operations are continuing as normal,” he added.
Visakhapatnam deputy commissioner of police Aishwarya Rastogi told reporters that the blast took place at Unit-3 of the HPCL refinery in the old terminal building.
“Immediately, five fire tenders from the premises were pressed into service and more fire tenders were being rushed,” he said, adding that the exact reason for the fire was yet to be ascertained.
Thick plumes of smoke billowed in the areas surrounding the HPCL plant, including Gajuwaka and Malkapuram areas on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam.
Soon after the fire broke out, warning sirens were sounded and all the employees of the refinery were evacuated from the plant. Though it was suspected that at least six workers were trapped in the unit that exploded, it was later found that all of them managed to come out safely and no one was harmed in the incident.
The HPCL authorities rushed a few ambulances to the spot to extend medical help to any worker who might have received injuries.
Andhra Pradesh home minister Mekathoti Sucharita expressed shock over the refinery incident and spoke to senior police officials in Visakhapatnam to find out the details. She said apart from five fire tenders within the HPCL premises, another seven fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the fire.
“There are no casualties or injuries. There is no need for the people of Visakhapatnam to be panicky,” she said.
In September 1997, the HPCL, Visakhapatnam, witnessed the worst-ever fire accident killing 60 people and injuring 20 others. The fire started after an LPG pipeline leak caused an explosion in the storage area of the refinery.
The blaze was still raging 12 hours after the explosion at around 6.30 am. About 70,000 people in the vicinity of the plant fled their homes to safer places. The local administration opened 10 relief camps in Visakhapatnam to accommodate the citizens till it was safe for them to return home.
In August 2013, too, there was a similar fire accident in the HPCL. Two people were killed in the fire while 30 others got injured.