A Fire outbreak in the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation pipeline in Calabar on Wednesday led to the death of two persons who were welding a cut inflicted on the pipeline by petroleum oil thieves.
The fire which occurred at Ekorinim behind the House of Assembly quarters resulted from an explosion when officials of the NNPC engaged the services of welders to seal the hole on the pipeline from where petrol was gushing out.
The fire which caused large flames and thick smoke also destroyed many economic trees and large expanse of land between the Assembly village and the Ekorinim.
It was however contained by men of the Cross River State Fire Service before it could spread to the several tank Farms located at the Harbor village and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) tank farm.
Eye witnesses said, the fire which started at about 10 am defied efforts by villagers and it took fire service men who were drafted from the Mary Slessor fire station about three hours to bring the inferno under control.
A youth leader in the Ekorinin community, Mr. Ekong Eyo who spoke with our correspondent, absolved the youths of the area of any involvement in the incident, maintaining that only the anti-vandalism policemen patrolling the pipelines can explain what actually caused the huge flame of fire.
In his words, “I don’t think any Ekorinim person was involved in the incident. Since the pipelines vandalism which happened some years ago, killing over 50 persons plus others who were maimed and deformed, they have stopped tampering with the pipelines.
“The fact is that the security men who are guarding the right -of-way are not sincere, because sometimes they break these pipes themselves and when they cannot stop the oil from flowing, they start accusing innocent passers bye.
“Security officials at the NNPC depot in Calabar did not allow newsmen into the premises of the depot to speak with the depot manager but an official of the depot said “the incident should be an eye opener to the fuel thieves who are daily vandalizing our pipeline that they could die from fire or explosion when they vandalize pipelines”.
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