Firefighters battled a raging inferno inside the eTecK Park in Point Lisas last night, after a chemical factory went up in flames.
For several hours, dozens of firefighters from Southern Divisional Headquarters, Central Division, Tunapuna, Wrightson Road, Princes Town and Siparia firefighters risked their lives to contain the blaze and prevent it from spreading to other establishments near Pacific Avenue, Point Lisas.
The Point Lisas Industrial Estate comprises 103 companies involved in the production of petrochemicals such as methanol, ammonia and urea.
For over three hours, the firefighters also battled to stop the blaze from spreading to nine containers filled with flammable chemicals on the eastern and southern sides of the eTecK Park. Initially, the fire was believed to be a Mastermix warehouse but later was said to be a building adjacent to Mastermix called Gemini Inks, a printing supplies company.
However, when Guardian Media reached out to an official of the company, she said it was uncertain where the blaze began.
“Right now I have nothing left in me to speak. Call the Fire Service,” she said.
A tenant at the park told Guardian Media that the owners left the office around 5 pm and about an hour later, they were alerted via a WhatsApp message that the building was ablaze.
“One of the other tenants in the WhatsApp group chat told them there was smoke on the western side and that is from where it started. We were on our way home. We are worried because there is another container stored with chemical solvents further back,” a tenant said.
Another tenant then revealed that nine more containers with chemical solvents were in the park.
“There are others at the east. All the warehouses as well. If those containers blow then that is it for all of us,” the tenant said.
While firefighters tried to smother the fire, they were helped by the wind which blew south.
“The wind is helping them. If those containers blow, then it will take all those buildings away. There is also another chemical factory to the south. It is about 30 feet away from the fire and if that blow it is the end,” the man added.
Chairman of the Confederation of Regional Business Chambers, Jai Leladharsingh, said last night that his association was very concerned about the fire.
“Right now, the fire is near industries that use natural gas, which is a very flammable substance. It is very worrisome and we want to praise the firefighters who are putting themselves out there to combat this fire,” Leladharsingh said.
He noted that the authorities must ensure a specialised fire station is set up at Point Lisas to deal with fires.
“We have been calling for this specialised fire station to be constructed close to these industries so that there could be the first response to such disasters and that fires could be extinguished and contained in the shortest possible time.”
Several people took to social media to report on the fire.
Kester D`Arnaud wrote, “So Gemini Inks is on fire. Huge fire and lots of explosions in the distance so if I die because the industrial estate explodes, remember Metallica is overrated.”