Puerto Rico Fire Extinguished

Sun Oct 25, 2009 9:25pm EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Oct. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Puerto Rico Governor Luis G.
Fortuno announced today that the fire that began Friday morning at fuel
storage tank facilities in Catano, Puerto Rico has been extinguished.  

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20091025/NY98459 )

"Today I can tell the people of Puerto Rico that the danger has passed,"
Fortuno said at a press conference Sunday afternoon.  "The smoke cloud has
diminished, and all tank fires have been extinguished,  " said the Governor.

"Air quality will continue to be monitored until 6:00 p.m. and then we will
re-evaluate the need to continue monitoring," said the Governor, who added
that firefighters continue their work and are cooling down the tanks affected.
 

Governor Fortuno also announced that President Barack Obama had declared the
incident a national disaster and had made necessary federal resources
available to the five Puerto Rico municipalities affected by the emergency.
The Governor indicated that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun
to rapidly inspect the impact area, along with the Puerto Rico Police
Department, in order to determine the agency's role in the investigation and
clean-up of the zone.  

As part of the investigation into the cause of the blaze, the Governor
indicated that the Puerto Rico Police Department has established a
confidential e-mail and phone line, refineria@policia.gobierno.pr and
1-877-703-8346, for anyone with information related to the incident.

The Governor said the Puerto Rico National Guard and Puerto Rico Electrical
Power Authority found that none of the fuel lines from the refinery to the
nearby electric plant in the Palo Seco sector of Catano have been damaged.  

Governor Fortuno said the U.S. Coast Guard has lifted the security zone that
was previously established in the southern part of San Juan Bay, and that all
maritime operations are returning to normal.  The Puerto Rico State Emergency
Management and Disaster Administration Agency will coordinate with structural
engineers in order to evaluate damages to residences and determine, along with
the municipality's mayor and municipal personnel, the safety of the structures
so that residents can return to their homes.

The Governor said air and water quality continues to be monitored, with
today's air quality index good, and water quality normal.  Regarding the fuel
supply, he said there is no cause for concern about fuel supplies, as there
are more than 47.29 million gallons of regular gasoline, 16.56 million gallons
of premium and 13.4 million gallons of diesel. "

PR-22 (De Diego Expressway) has been reopened between San Juan and Arecibo and
sections of highways PR-28, PR-5 and PR-165 that are adjacent to the fuel
storage tank facilities remain limited to local traffic only.  The only
schools in the region that will not open tomorrow are two elementary schools,
Puente Blanco and Rafael Cordero, in the municipality of Catano.  

The Governor added that tourism operations also continued normally. 
Operations at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport continued as normal
throughout the day, and five cruise ships arrived yesterday as normal,
carrying more than 9,000 passengers.  Hotels and other tourist services
reported no cancellations. 

Over the weekend, other  major events in Puerto Rico also  proceeded as
scheduled including the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association's Annual
Golf Tournament; Professional Baseball League Practice in Caguas with players
such as Carlos Delgado, Ivan Rodriguez and Javier Vazquez and a Breast Cancer
Awareness Walk in San Juan.  

The Governor thanked personnel from all state, federal and municipal agencies
that have provided necessary support throughout this emergency, as well as the
support of various pharmaceutical and other businesses that also provided
assistance.

"I want to thank everyone, volunteers and local, regional and federal
authorities for their quick and professional response that contained the
affected area to that within immediate proximity of the storage facility," he
said. "I am extremely pleased with the work done by government and federal
agencies during this situation," the Governor said, "an event which had us
very concerned, but that thankfully we have overcome." 

He added that the principal objective throughout has been "to guarantee the
security of all citizens, including that of rescue and security teams, and we
have done so.  We thank all the people of Puerto Rico for their solidarity and
understanding during these past three days," the Governor concluded.  


SOURCE  Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration

Karissa Mendez, +1-787-354-6519
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