By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Firefighters continue to combat a fire which has engulfed at least four large fuel tanks at the Port of Santos in São Paulo, saying that containment of the flames may take days. According to officials, it is impossible for firefighters to put out the fire which started Thursday morning at the Ultracargo terminal, so they have opted to try to prevent the flames from spreading to other tanks and are letting the fuel burn until it ends.
According to Santos’ Fire Brigade 35 fire trucks and at least eighty firefighters were sent to the scene and are now working around the clock to control the situation. Television footage of the fire showed balls of fire and black smoke rising to the air. Truck drivers waiting to unload their trucks in neighboring terminals reported intense heat.
Ultracargo transports chemical products, fuel, vegetable oils, ethanol and corrosives. According to a company’s press release it is still too early to determine the causes of the accident. There were no reports of injuries or deaths at the site.
According to the company’s website, it is Brazil’s largest liquid bulk storage company. At the Santos Port it has 175 tanks and can store up to 301,300 cubic meters of products.
The Port of Santos is Latin America’s largest port and the home of several terminals which house fuel and flammable products. According to officials interviewed by local news outlet, there were fears that the fire would spread to nearby terminals, where tanks of ammonia and other highly toxic gases were stored.
The CODESP (São Paulo State Port Authority) announced that due to the accident it had closed off the right margin of the Santos Port to vehicles.