Military orders evacuation following fire outbreak at Beruit port

The Lebanese army has ordered an evacuation after another warehouse caught fire at Beirut port a little over a month after a massive blast devastated the port facilities and surrounding area.

While officials say the cause of the new fire is unknown, an eyewitness at the port told The National that workers were welding on the building when the blaze began.

“They were welding metal bars to fix the warehouse and in a fraction of a second, a big fire started that spread really fast because there is a lot of alcohol, tyres, cardboard and paper, so a lot of things that burn really fast,” said Alain Khoury, 28, who works at ECU Worldwide shipping company with warehouses at Beirut port.

“We ran. We heard people scream ‘run run’. We left everything and ran,” he said.

Lt Michel El Murr of the Beirut fire department said the blaze broke out in one of the port’s remaining duty-free area and firemen were at the scene. He said the whole warehouse was on fire and it stored various goods.

“It’s a big depot for duty-free,” he told The National.

Video shared on Twitter showed flames covering a large area at the port.

On August 4, a fire at a warehouse in Beirut’s port ignited thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate causing a massive blast that killed at least 190 people and wounded over 6,500. Three hundred thousand were left homeless and much of the downtown areas of the city suffered major damage.

Since then, the military and international experts have been working to locate and remove any other dangerous chemicals being stored in warehouses around the country and removed 4.35 tonnes of highly explosive ammonium nitrate near the entrance to the shattered Beirut last week.