Beirut Port Witness Another Fire Outbreak Today

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A fire outbreak in the port of Beirut sparked widespread panic in the Lebanese capital just two days after another fire at the site of a massive explosion that killed nearly 200 people last month.

The Lebanese army announced on Thursday that the latest fire broke out in an oil and tyre storage warehouse in a duty-free port area.

An eye witness told Al Jazeera that he saw people fleeing from the flames, which sent huge smoke into the sky. He also saw cars returning to the Mar Mikhael neighborhood, which was devastated by the August 4 explosion that injured more than 6,500 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Lebanon’s local civil defense fire brigade said the fire had been contained but not yet extinguished. No injuries were reported.

Bassem Kaissi, who was appointed the new port director of Beirut after the explosion, told Al Jazeera that a fire had broken out at a warehouse leased from the port by BCC Logistics. He said BCC was carrying out restoration work at the facility when the fire started.

He said the BCC built the facilities to meet health and safety requirements, including equipping them with fire extinguishers and fire alarms – but they were destroyed in the August 4 explosion.

Kassi said no security agencies or government officials were on the scene at the time of the fire, adding that they were not present because the property was leased from the port and was therefore considered private property.

Kassi declined to comment on what might have caused the fire and said he would wait for an investigation to begin.

The top public prosecutor, Ghassan Oueidat, has ordered all major security agencies to investigate the cause of the fire following an order from the country’s Minister of Justice, Marie Claude Najem.

As in the case of the August crash, firefighters arrived at the scene without knowing exactly what was burning.

Ten firefighters died on August 4 after being dispatched to extinguish an inferno caused by the explosion of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at the port.

Murr said he couldn’t completely rule out the presence of explosives in the area, but said it was impossible.

Apart from further destroying much of Beirut’s already destroyed port, Thursday’s fires appear to have swallowed up aid for survivors of last month’s explosion.

Fabrizio Carboni, Middle East regional director at the International Committee of the Red Cross, said half a million liters of oil and thousands of food packages had been stored in the burning warehouse.

Apart from further destroying much of Beirut’s already destroyed port, Thursday’s fires appear to have swallowed up aid for survivors of last month’s explosion.

Fabrizio Carboni, Middle East regional director at the International Committee of the Red Cross, said half a million liters of oil and thousands of food packages had been stored in the burning warehouse.

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