x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Eleven firefighters injured in factory blaze

Fire hits Abu Dhabi National Paper Mill in Musaffah, before spreading to a nearby carpet factory.

The fire was aggravated by highly flammable chemicals used in the paper factory.
The fire was aggravated by highly flammable chemicals used in the paper factory.

ABU DHABI // Eleven firefighters were injured as they battled a factory blaze for almost 24 hours. The fire broke out at about 6pm yesterday at Abu Dhabi National Paper Mill in the industrial area of Musaffah, before spreading to a nearby carpet factory, according to a statement from Abu Dhabi police. The blaze took hold quickly and was aggravated by the highly flammable chemicals used in the paper factory, which was slammed by officials for its poor storage and safety records. Sixty water tankers and thirty trailers of sand were needed to temper the flames, with extra fire lorries brought in from Al Ain and Dubai. Water was still being pumped out across the wreckage this afternoon as acrid smoke hung in the air and roads around the site remained cordoned off. Eleven firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation after rescuers worked through the night to control the inferno and prevent it from spreading to surrounding buildings. Firefighters were on the scene within five minutes, the police said. Abu Dhabi Municipality turned off six power stations in the vicinity of the fire as a precaution. Most of those firefighters injured were treated by medics at the scene, though a few were rushed to hospital, the police said. Although the direct cause of the blaze is not yet known, the plant was accused of "obvious neglect" in its storage and safety procedures, including the practice of keeping highly flammable liquids near direct sources of heat. The paper factory was guilty of "clear negligence in the storage methods and procedures for public safety," Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Minister of Interior, who led the overnight operation, said in the statement. Two written warnings had been sent to the paper factory, according to Dr Jaber al Jaberi, a director at the Environment Authority. The warnings followed inspections that found "many flaws" in the company's safety procedures including a lack of emergency plans, inappropriate storage methods, and a lack of correct labelling on stored materials. Changes that were recommended to the Abu Dhabi Paper mill had not been followed, and the company's history indicates that negligence was the main cause of the fire, al Jaberi said. Mr Jaberi called for a strengthening of unified safety measures for all industrial building in order to avoid such incidents happening in the future. Forensic samples have been taken from the site and a detailed report will be compiled in due course, the police statement said. @email:lmorris@thenational.ae