Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan
By Omon-Julius Onabu
Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline Sunday burst into flame in Effurun adjoining Warri, thereby unsettling residents of Warri/Effurun metropolis in the process.
The pipeline fire reportedly occurred at about 12 noon yesterday at a point close to General David Ejoor Army Barracks, Effurun.
The pipeline is believed to be one of NNPC crude oil channels feeding the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company (WRPC) about two kilometres away.
It was further gathered that some of the crude pipelines traversing the area belong to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
The fire reportedly followed an explosion that might have resulted from wild fire or indiscriminate “bush burning” in the area.
Although, the exact cause of the fire was uncertain, one eye-witness account said the explosion and resultant fire was triggered by a fire in a waste dump or dustbin in the “Mammy (mini-) Market” within barracks, which had been burning ceaselessly since the dry harmattan set in Warri area.
THISDAY checks showed that the fire did not cause any serious damage, but the thick smoke bellowing into the afternoon sky prompted precautionary measures being taken by security personnel and Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) officials.
They officials cordoned off the Effurun-NPA Expressway, which runs by the army barracks, and traffic diverted through the nearby Refinery Road apparently to forestall any eventuality.
However, the timely intervention of fire fighters from Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) as well as Nigeria Gas Company (NGC) and Delta State fire service battled for several hours to extinguish the fire before it went out of control.
Operatives of the Joint Task Force (JTF) led by the Warri Sector I Commander, Brig-Gen Enang Ukagu were on ground as the fire fighters battled with the raging flames.
The fire fighters, who had to pull down a portion of the barracks concrete fence, battled for several hours before bringing the situation under acceptable control at about 5pm Sunday.
Some observers and commuters however noted that the fire could have occurred because some of the pipes recently laid in the area might not have been properly done; but they commended the fire fighters, saying the inferno could have spread easily and caused extensive damage especially at this time of the harmattan.
“I think this pipe that were recently laid were not well laid because crude started gushing out of them immediately the fire spread to that part where the borrow pit is”, one observer said, adding, “The contractor who handled this project did a very shoddy job because this place is so prone to petrol fire.”