By Lucy Jordan, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A huge fire at a fuel depot on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro killed a man and injured seven others on Thursday, local media reported. Firefighters were still trying to control the blaze on Friday morning.
Globo reported that the victim had been identified as Gelson Ferreira da Silva, 43, an employee at the Petrogold depot for fuels and lubricants in the municipality of Duque de Caxias, in the Baixada Fluminense, about 20km away from downtown Rio.
Silva reportedly suffered burns to ninety percent of his body and died of his injuries in the Adão Pereira hospital.
The fire began at around 11AM Thursday and an explosion shortly after midday caused the flames to spread to adjacent buildings, including three houses. A four-block area was evacuated, but there were reports that many pets had remained trapped inside the houses and died.
The fire department said that the depot contained about three million liters of fuel. Temperatures in the fire reached 1,000 degrees Celsius, and radiated a heat of 600 degrees Celsius to the surrounding evacuated area. Television news reports showed flames reaching hundreds of feet high, clouds off black smoke and a gas tanker truck catching fire close to the blaze.
Globo reported that the State Environmental Institute (INEA), has said that Petrogold has no environmental permit from the state to operate. However, the oil and gas regulatory agency, the ANP, said the company had been properly regulated. “Petrogold have operating authority 179, published in the Official Gazette on April 7, 2009.”
“During the awards the company filed all documents required by Ordinances ANP Nos. 29 and 202, 1999, including the business license of the Municipality of Duque de Caxias, a certificate of inspection of the Fire Department and environmental operation licenses, all within the validity period. The company was inspected by ANP four times this year, since January and found no irregularities,” ANP added.
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