RIO DE JANEIRO – One person was killed in a spectacular fire that broke out in a fuel depot on the northern edge of Rio de Janeiro and spread to nearby homes Thursday.
Six giant fuel containers at the storage site caught fire, sending giant flames up to 50 meters high leaping into the air and columns of thick smoke far into the sky that could be seen kilometers away.
The victim was a 43-year-old man who worked at the site, owned by Petrogold fuel distributors. He was rushed to a hospital with 90 percent of his body burned but died soon after, local media reported.
The fire broke out just after 11 a.m. and about an hour later spread to the nearby homes.
Firefighters cleared out a four-block radius around the fuel depot, located in Duque de Caxias on the northern edge of metropolitan Rio.
There were homes and a school within the evacuated area, said Deputy Civil Defense Secretary Jerry Pires.
Duque de Caxias Mayor Alexandre Cardoso ordered an investigation, saying, “It is unacceptable to locate a time bomb in places were people live and study.”
According to officials with the state of Rio de Janeiro, Petrogold had no environmental license to operate and had already been raided by federal police. The site was operating only because its case was being appealed in court.
Huge oil field auction
RIO DE JANEIRO
Brazil on Thursday said it will auction concessions to drill and explore an offshore oil field believed to hold up to 12 billion barrels of crude, the country’s largest find.
The tender process for the Libra oil field will take place in mid-October, said National Oil Agency director Magda Chambriard, changing an originally scheduled date in late November.
“I have worked in the oil industry for 30 years and have never seen anything like it,” she said. “Something this size will raise eyebrows all over the world.”
Libra, discovered in 2010, is within the vast Santos Basin, located some 180 km off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.
Oil in the Santos basin, which was discovered in 2007, lies under a thick layer of salt between 5 and 7 km below the ocean surface.