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Ivory Coast Fuel Depot in Flames

May 18, 1999

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) _ Firefighters battling a blaze at Ivory Coast’s main petroleum storage depot on Monday had nearly exhausted chemical foam supplies needed to smother the flames, a firefighting official said.

The fire, which began Thursday, was thought extinguished Saturday after 25 firefighters flown in from France coated the burning gasoline storage tanks with a thick layer of chemical foam.

However, the government said a sudden shift in wind speed and direction blew away some of the foam and allowed the fire to ignite again Sunday.

While firemen sprayed water onto flames roaring more than 100 feet high, an official on the scene speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were awaiting imports of more chemical foam before significant firefighting operations could continue.

Officials feared the fire could spread to jet fuel and kerosene storage tanks adjacent to the burning fuel.

The storage company spokesman said estimates couldn’t yet be made for how much petroleum has been lost to the blaze.

However, the Gestoci spokesman said the company had enough gasoline stored to meet Ivory Coast’s needs for six weeks and there would be no need to import any petroleum as a result of the blaze.

It was not immediately clear what had started the fire.

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