By Libya Herald reporters.
Benghazi, 23 January 2016:
After more than 48 hours, exhausted firefighters hugged each other today after they had extinguished . . .[restrict]the last of the major blazes in the Ras Lanuf tank farm. Even so, a pipeline and a nearby tank were still on fire.
At times during the inferno, the firemen had acted with almost lunatic bravery. Footage was posted of one man who climbed a ladder put up against a burning oil tank, to turn off a valve that was allowing oil to spray on to a nearby fire. The individual, who was not wearing a helmet nor apparently any of the fire crews’ protective gear, worked at the valve with a large spanner which reduced the emission from the tank to a trickle. Then he finished the task by hammering the valve completely shut with the spanner.
NOC in Tripoli has said that 90 percent of the fires are now out. It has taken over two days for the crews to achieve this following Thursday’s missile and artillery attack on the export terminal by IS forces.
The firefighters’ task was made the more difficult by their initial inability to move through the ground fighting to reach the blaze. The flames were therefore able to take hold on at least three of the storage tanks which in turn ignited two others.
NOC said that the Petroleum Facilities Guard had now secured the entire area. It was sending teams to assess the full extent of the destruction. It is believed that some three million of barrels of crude were in the tank farm when IS attacked.
At the height of the blaze a massive plume of black smoke stretched north-east across the sea to the coastline below Benghazi. Tripoli NOC chief Mustafa Sanalla described the conflagration as an environmental disaster. [/restrict]