Thick black smoke billowing from the fire that broke out in a scrapyard in the Industrial Area yesterday morning. PICTURE: Rafeek Vadakkekad
By Bonnie James/Deputy News Editor
A scrapyard on Street 40 of Doha’s Industrial Area went up in flames yesterday a little after 10am in an incident that spread panic in a neighbourhood dotted with labour camps.
No casualties have been reported in the blaze that devoured a crane, a pick up truck and materials stocked in the yard. The fire also partially damaged an adjacent automobile garage.
The flames were brought under control by Civil Defence personnel who rushed to the scene. Timely action by the firefighters averted a major tragedy as a number of labour accommodations are located nearby.
Although most of the workers, housed in the labour camps, were away at work sites when the fire broke out, those who were not on the morning shift were resting in their rooms.
A truck driver, who witnessed the incident, said the fire was caused by some welding work carried out near a fuel tank in the yard. Flames erupted within a few minutes of him reaching the yard with a load of pipes.
Another eyewitness said the fire originated in or around the fuel tank. “It seems the tank exploded a few minutes into the blaze as loud blasts could be heard,” he said.
The thick black column of smoke that billowed into the air, followed by balls of fire, was visible from a distance.
Though the smoke began to create discomfort for people in the area within a few minutes of the fire breaking out, the Civil Defence teams, supported by police patrols, ensured the blaze was contained as soon as possible.
Safety standards at some of the scrapyards in the Industrial Area leave much to be desired, according to people who frequent the neighbourhood.
“Minor fires and explosions happen regularly due to the careless attitude of some of the workers,” a source said.
Improper sorting and processing of flammable or explosive waste materials are a constant threat in scrap yards.
“Empty gas cylinders getting caught in the metal pulverising machine and exploding is not uncommon,” he added.
A safety expert suggested that workers in scrapyards should be enlightened on the pros and cons of their activities.
“If the eyewitness accounts of the latest scrapyard fire are true, the blaze was caused by some welding work done close to a fuel tank. This is a flagrant violation of the most basic safety measures,” he stressed.