It took 5 hours to bring the fire under control.
Mumbai: A massive fire broke out after a boiler blast in the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) refinery in Mahul on Wednesday. While there are no casualties reported so far, 43 people have been injured, of which one is in a critical condition.
The blast took place at BPCL’s hydrogen cracker plant at about 3 pm. Nine fire tenders, two foam tenders and two jumbo tankers were pressed into service to douse the blaze, said a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) official.
The explosion was so loud that the tremors were felt in areas as far as Deonar. A thick black smoke cloud could be seen from several kilometres away.
A local resident, Santosh Aadhar said, “We heard a massive explosion. Its vibrations shook windows of our building, which is 500 metres away from the refinery.
Considering that there are several petrochemical plants in the vicinity, the firefighting operations were started on warfooting. The Mumbai Fire Brigade rushed seven fire engines, two foam tenders and two jumbo tankers to the spot. Along with the Fire Brigade, the refinery’s own fire-fighting team, HPCL, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, RCF and Mazgaon Dock fire brigades were also engaged in dousing the flames which were later brought under control, said an official of the disaster control room of the BMC.
The fire control operations went on for nearly five hours. However, it continued to blaze till late evening. Excessive heat and strong winds were proving to be a major deterrent in controlling the fire, said fire officials.
“Due to tremendous heat and built-up pressure, fire fighting operation was being carried out from safe distance using fixed monitors,” said chief fire officer P.S. Rahangdale.
Seven monitors of fixed fire-fighting installations and four hose lines of fire engines were used to contain the level three fires that require immediate evacuation.
The BPCL released an official statement, saying that the fire broke out at 2.45 pm on Wednesday in the compressor shed of the hydrocracker plant, and two people had suffered minor injuries in the same. The attempts to douse the fire are underway.
The statement read, “A fire occurred at BPCL’s Mumbai refinery at the Mahul plant on Wednesday at around 14.45 hrs. The fire is being fought by the fire fighting team.” Of the 43 injured, 22 have been admitted to the BPCL medical centre, whereas remaining 21 are undergoing treatment at Shushrut Hospital, Chembur. Eight to 10 monitors of BPCL, mutual aid response group and fire brigade are carrying out cooling operation. All plants are being depressurised and being shut for safety reasons, an official said.
The incident took place in the “Compressor shed of Hydrocracker plant”, as per the company’s statement. The hydrocracker unit, which was set up at Mahul Refinery was installed as part of the refinery’s upgradation to produce clean automotive fuels, a BPCL official said.
This was the second major incident involving a Bharat Petroleum establishment in the past 10 months in the Mumbai region. Last year, on October 7, a lightning strike had caused a major fire in a a massive oil storage tank on Butcher Island, off Mumbai shore, which was extinguished after four days.