Rajbandh, June 5: The blackness of the thick smoke billowing out of the burning tank in the Indian Oil Corporation terminal here paled to a cloudy white this afternoon, bringing relief to the choking town and indicating that the worst was over after two days.
“At the moment, most of the petrol inside the tank has burnt out and the fire is now eating up the sludge and whatever little petrol is left inside. The smoke should be completely out in another 10 hours because sludge burns out very slowly,” said a relieved S.K. Tripathi, the IOC spokesman, from Calcutta.
A huge fire triggered by lightning had engulfed tank number 12 here containing 4,000 kilolitres of petrol on Thursday evening.
Petroleum supplies from Rajbandh, the biggest IOC installation in these parts, to the whole of eastern India — as also aviation fuel to Nepal through Raxaul — are suspended.
Tripathi hoped the IOC would start supplying soon. “But everything depends on how quickly the fire dies out,” he said.
At the oil installation near Durgapur, exhausted firefighters and the IOC staff are still cooling the exterior of the tank, which has developed some cracks and crumpled in some parts.
“The biggest worry in the last few hours about the possibility of the structure holding the tank collapsing to the ground is now over…,” Tripathi said.
Sunil Khan, the CPM MP from Durgapur, visited the terminal this afternoon and spoke to IOC officials. “There are a lot of oil depots and an LPG bottling plant in this area. I will speak to the petroleum ministry in Delhi to ensure that proper fire preventive measures are installed,” he said after the meeting.