August 27, 2007 / 4:43 AM / 10 years ago

Fire at UAE port's chemical depot put out

<p>Smoke rises after explosions ripped through a chemical storage depot at Jebel Ali port in the United Arab Emirates August 27, 2007. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah</p>

DUBAI (Reuters) - Firefighters extinguished a blaze that tore through a chemical storage depot at Jebel Ali port in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, the second fire in two weeks at a cargo port in the Gulf Arab oil exporter.

“The fire is under control although it started in the middle of the 8,000 square meter depot used to store chemicals,” said Rashid al-Matrooshi, head of administration at the Dubai Civil Defence Department.

There were no casualties and shipping was not disrupted.

It was not clear what caused the blaze, which broke out at 4.00 a.m (8 p.m. EDT), enveloping parts of Dubai in black smoke.

“There were explosions, sending debris up to 300 meters (yards) in the air,” Matrooshi said.

The port is regularly visited by U.S. navy vessels, but none were affected by Monday’s fire.

<p>Two employees work as smoke is seen at a chemical storage depot at Jebel Ali port in the United Arab Emirates August 27, 2007. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah</p>

“According to our schedule, there are no U.S. aircraft carriers there,” Lieutenant John Gay of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet told Reuters from Bahrain.

“No coalition ships were in danger of the fire.”

The depot stored about 25,000 barrels of combustible material and bags of chemical powder, Matrooshi said.

Jebel Ali port is located in Dubai, a member of the UAE federation, the world’s sixth-largest oil exporter. The port has the UAE’s second biggest oil refinery.

“There has been no effect on the refinery operations,” said a spokesman for Emirates National Oil Company, which runs the 120,000 barrels-per-day facility.

Sharjah, another UAE emirate, closed its main cargo port for seven hours last week after a fire at a lubricants warehouse.

Additional reporting by Dina Wakeel and Simon Webb

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