A huge fire has erupted at Beirut’s port, just over a month after a massive explosion that killed about 190 people.
The fire appeared to have started in a warehouse belonging to a private company that imported cooking oil. It then spread to a stock of rubber tires, the port’s interim general manager, Bassem El-Kaissi, said in a telephone interview.
“That is why you see the big black clouds,” Mr. El-Kaissi said, adding that it was too early to speculate about how the fire started. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The fire broke out in a part of the port near a major highway known as the free zone, where companies store goods intended for import that have not yet cleared customs. The area, like much of the port, was heavily damaged in last month’s blast, which happened after a fire started in a storage hangar for hazardous materials.
A column of black smoke billowed from the port at midday Thursday, with orange flames leaping from the ground.
The Lebanese army said the fire is at a warehouse where oil and tires are placed in the duty free zone at the port adding that fighting the blaze is ongoing and that army helicopters are taking part in the operation.
The visuals from smoke and blaze are not unlike the Beirut blast on August 4 that killed about 190 people and injured 6,000 people.
A video circulating on social media showed workers at the port running away in fear as soon as the fire broke out, a chilling reminder of last month’s blast that killed dozens of port employees and 10 fire fighters.
The head of Lebanon’s Red Cross, George Kettaneh, said there was no fear of another explosion as a result of the flames and said there were no injuries. Although he said there were some people suffering from shortness of breath as a result.
Television footage showed firefighters trying to douse the blaze in an area surrounded by the mangled remains of warehouses that were destroyed in the explosion last month.
Local TV stations said the companies that have offices near the port have asked their employees to leave the area.
Lebanese troops closed the major road that passes near the port referring traffic to other areas.