40 injured in blast, fire at BPCL refinery

Controlling the blaze: Firefighters attempt to douse the blaze at the BPCL refinery in Mahul on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Prashant Waydande

An explosion at the hydrocracker plant in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited’s (BPCL) Mahul refinery on Wednesday led to a major fire that raged for hours. Around 40 people were injured in the incident.

The shock waves caused windowpanes of buildings in the area to shatter.

Of the 40 people who were injured, 22 were admitted to Sushrut Hospital in Chembur and the rest were given first aid at the BPCL clinic. By 9 p.m., four of the 22 had been discharged.

The fire broke out in the compressor shed of the 72-tonne plant around 2.45 p.m, and was categorised as a level III (major) blaze. The fire brigade mobilised seven fire engines, two jumbo tankers, and one quick response vehicle, and used four hose lines. The refinery’s firefighting teams were leading the operations. Its fixed firefighting system, with monitors that spray 4,500 litres of water per minute, was useful in dousing the fire. Every tank has these monitors next to it, and seven were used.

Panic among residents

The explosion was loud enough to be heard as far as Chembur. Mahul resident Dayaram Mahulkar said, “We saw flames billowing out of BPCL.”

Nandu Shinde, a resident of Mahul’s SRA colony that houses BMC’s project-affected people, said, “We heard a loud explosion and the windows in our colony shattered. People thought it was an earthquake and ran outside in panic. There was broken glass on the streets.” People also shared pictures and videos of the flames and smoke on Twitter.

Chief Fire Officer Prabhat Rahangdale said, “Because of the intense heat and smoke, it was not possible to go near the site. In such cases, fixed firefighting systems are very useful. If the equipment had not been in place, it could have led to a much bigger mishap.”

BPCL, in an official statement, said the hydrocracker unit has been safely shut. The fire is under control and the company’s fire-fighting teams are keeping a close watch on the refinery. “Our medical team is monitoring the status of the injured at the hospital,” it said.

A BPCL official told The Hindu, “The company will set up a team to investigate the matter.”

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 9:51:17 AM |

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