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article imageMassive fire at refinery in Venezuela sparked by lightning

By Anne Sewell     Aug 13, 2013 in World
Puerto La Cruz - A huge fire broke out in an oil refinery on Sunday when lightning struck a treatment pond. A massive pillar of black smoke enveloped the Venezuelan town of Puerto la Cruz, prompting residents to evacuate the immediate area.
The refinery is located in Puerto la Cruz, in the Venezuelan state of Anzoategui, 220 km east of Caracas.
A lightning strike caused a fire in what is one of the the country's largest oil refineries. Firefighters battled the fire in a heavy downpour of rain and managed to extinguish the blaze.
The vice-president of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, Asdrubal Chavez, congratulated the fire crews for their "sustained effort which allowed us to control this important fire in record time."
According to Information Minister Delcy Rodriguez, "There has been no loss of life nor injuries." Rodriguez added that the evacuation of the area around the refinery was merely a precaution.
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro said on Twitter on Sunday that he was in direct communication with the firefighting teams tackling the fire.
The news of no injuries is good, as last year at least 39 people were killed and many injured when a gas leak caused an explosion at Venezuela’s largest refinery complex, halting production.
In 2012 and less than a month apart, there were two very similar incidents, where lightning set fire to two separate storage tanks at the El Palito refinery. Fortunately no one was hurt in either blaze.
Chavez announced that the Puerto La Cruz refinery produces nearly 200,000 barrels of oil a day and that production has not been affected by Sunday’s incident.
Some excellent photos of the blaze can be viewed here.
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