Matanzas, Cuba – Firefighters on Tuesday finally overcame what officials described as the worst fire in Cuba’s history that over five days destroyed 40% of the Caribbean island’s main fuel storage facility and caused massive blackouts.
Reuters witnesses reported the raging flames that ravaged a four-tank segment of the Matanzas super tanker port had died down and the towering plumes of thick black smoke streaming from the area were diminished and now mostly gray.
Matanzas is Cuba’s largest port for receiving crude oil and fuel imports. Cuban heavy crude, as well as fuel oil and diesel stored in Matanzas in 10 huge tanks, are mainly used to generate electricity on the island.
Lightning struck one fuel storage tank on Friday evening. The fire spread to a second by Sunday and engulfed the four-tank area on Monday, accompanied by huge explosions and despite efforts by local firefighters supported by more than 100 Mexican and Venezuelan reinforcements.
Firefighter Rafael Perez Garriga told Reuters on the steaming outskirts of the disaster that he worries the fire would impact the power situation in the country.
“The situation is going to be more difficult. If the thermoelectric plants are supplied with that oil, we are going to have the whole world affected, it is electricity and it affects everything,” he said.