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Update: Response to Fuel Tank Fire

CIFS were on scene throughout the night and early morning and battled the blaze for more than eight hours.

At 2.42 a.m. this morning (Monday, 24 July 2017) the Cayman Islands Fire Service (CIFS) successfully extinguished a fire inside a fuel tank at the Sol Fuel Distribution Centre on South Church Street.

The fire was initially reported when a technician alerted 911 at 4.43 p.m. on Sunday, 23 July 2017 that smoke was coming from a fuel tank.

The CIFS was immediately dispatched to the scene, arrived in three minutes and immediately began to assess the risks.

In the interest of public safety, an initial advisory evacuation with a mile radius from scene was issued at 5.10 p.m.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) went door-to-door advising residents of the recommendation to evacuate. The Cayman Islands Red Cross was open to all residents who were waiting to return to their home.

The RCIPS cordoned off the area and established roadblocks diverting traffic along South Church Street. Those who left their homes could not return until the advisory was lifted.

The RCIPS Marine Vessel Typhoon also initiated a one-thousand foot block for any vessels at sea.

Several emergency vehicles were on scene throughout the night and into the early morning, as fire officers fought the blaze for more than eight hours.

Shortly after 2.45 a.m. neighbouring residents were advised by Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) that they could safely return to their homes.

CIFS officials remained at the Jackson Point fuel terminal to monitor the situation throughout the night as a precautionary measure.

At the beginning of the night, a unified command post was established at Sunset House, which included CIFS, HMCI, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), the RCIPS, Sol management team and the Chief Petroleum Inspector.

Chief Fire Officer David Hails says no one was injured before or during the incident.

“I commend the response efforts that were made by all emergency services personnel, and I applaud the fire officers who fought hard under challenging circumstances to extinguish the fire and keep the public safe,” Chief Hails explains.

Due to the large quantity of diesel fuel inside the tank, Chief Hails says the fire was potentially extremely dangerous, but fire officers worked diligently to get the fire under control and safely put it out.

He adds that due to the location of the fire inside the fuel tank, it was very difficult to access and deal with the flames.

In order to control the fire from spreading inside the entire tank, firefighters used cooling jets with water to cover the outside to reduce the temperature of the fuel inside.

Chief Hails notes that their thermal imaging cameras were a critical tool in determining the temperature inside the tank and if it was cooling down properly. The RCIPS also used their thermal imaging cameras to view the hotspots inside the tank from the police helicopter.

“Without these devices we would not have known there was a fire inside the tank or where it was located,” Chief Hails explains. “They were essential in our overall response because if the fire had spread deeper inside the tank, we would probably have experienced a catastrophic incident.”

He adds, “The aggressive firefighting tactics involved firefighters standing on top of the tank knowing it was on fire and that it could spread at any moment, the outstanding commitment and bravery they displayed should not go unnoticed."

Officials with the Ministry of Home Affairs would also like to personally acknowledge all emergency services personnel who responded to the scene immediately, and contributed to the overall safety of the public.

For further information contact: Jamie Hicks