Mahul boiler blast: one critical, 43 hurt
Fire officials battle for over three hours at BPCL refinery unit containing flames fanned by 72 tons of hydrocarbon used for diesel generation
A major blast occured at the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) refinery in Mahul around 2.45 pm yesterday, injuring 43 workers at the site. At the time of going to press, fire officials said the control burning operation was in process, and that unless the entire contents of the hydro-cracker unit were exhausted, the fire would continue to burn and firefighting would go on.
The incident took place in the boiler of the unit, which contained 72 tons of hydrocarbon, used for diesel generation in cracking vacuum gas oil and hydrocarbon unit. There were eight to 10 monitors of BPCL, mutual aid response group and fire brigade carrying out the operation from all sides. Along with this, seven fire engines, two fire tenders, seven jumbo water tankers, and ambulances too were pressed into service.
All plants were depressurised and shut down for safety reasons with the remaining hydrocarbon undergoing the control burning process till the stock is exhausted, said fire officers, adding that because of the precautionary measures in place and the firefighting method adopted, the blaze didn't spread.
While the cause of the fire is still unknown, BMC officials said BPCL will carry out an inquiry. A fire officer said, "When we prepare our fire report, we will leave the cause to the BPCL team, as it is a technical issue, and they are in a better position to investigate."
Chief Fire Officer P S Rahangdale said, "A majority of the equipment was in place and firefighting was done from a safe distance. We were able to control the hydrocarbon early with help from their in-house firefighting team. The control burning operation is in process." A statement from BPCL read, "A fire occurred at BPCL Mumbai Refinery at Mahul plant on Wednesday around 14.45hrs. The fire was in the Compressor shed of Hydrocracker plant. The fire is being fought by the Refinery fire fighting team. The fire is still on but is under control. (sic)"
As many as 22 people were admitted to Sushrut Hospital in Chembur yesterday, all having suffered trauma injuries, not serious burns. Five have been admitted in the ICU, as per the report released by the hospital to the fire department. "Most sustained minor injuries to hands, legs and face," said Kumar Goswami, medical superintendent of the hospital.
BPCL spokesperson says
"The refinery firefighting team along with the Mutual Aid group, which includes the Mumbai Fire Brigade, controlled and contained the fire. By 3.30 pm, it was brought under control. Firefighting teams of the refinery are closely monitoring the blaze. The hydrocracker unit has been safely shut down, while other units are normal. No product shortage is envisaged on account of the fire. During the incident, some people suffered minor injuries and were sent to a hospital in Chembur for treatment. Our refinery medical team is monitoring the status of the injured at the hospital."
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