At the Chab filling station, which is located next to the Star Paper Mill in Umuatako, Aba, in the Abia State, a tanker carrying 33,000 liters of Premium Motor Spirit caught fire on Thursday, damaging property valued more than N 130 million.
According to a filling station employee who spoke to the News media under the condition of anonymity, the fire broke out about midday and raged till approximately 2 o’clock before being extinguished by firefighters from the Aba and Umuahia stations of the Abia State Fire Service.
The state Chief Fire Officer, Mr Arua Nnanna, described the incident as avoidable.
He said the service had warned fuel station owners to always discharge their products when the intensity of the sun’s heat is not high.
He said, “I got a distress call in Umuahia that there is a fuel tanker fire in Aba, so I had to send two trucks from our Aba station at Constitution Crescent.
“By the time I got the second call, it was for assistance from Aba because of the intensity of the fire.
“So I pushed the trucks in Umuahia down to Aba to ensure that everything was put under control.
“As I am talking to you now, four trucks are working there, two from Aba and two from Umuahia.”
Nnanna suggested that while the tanker was offloading PMS, the weather was hot and the station did not have the necessary safety materials on hand.
Nnanna thanked residents and other security agencies for their cooperation which aided in the control of the fire.
The Commander of Abia State Fire Service, Aba Command, Mr Belenta Belenta, said the intensity of the fire was beyond the capacity of the Aba command, hence the request for assistance from Umuahia.
He said, “We got the information and rushed immediately with my men. The tanker was discharging and that discharge resulted in a fire outbreak. The tanker was loaded with 33,000 litres of PMS.
“We battled the fire with the assistance of our main station in Umuahia. And we quenched it possibly with the type of chemical we had.”
NAN reports that office equipment and products at the business centres within Umungasi Post Office were destroyed by the fire.
The state governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, also visited the scene of the fire to assess the situation but he did not speak about the fire.