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Firefighters battle massive fire at northern Iraq oil refinery

An oil refinery burns outside Irbil, Iraq, Thursday, June 13, 2024   -  
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Bilind Tahir/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.


A witness spoke on Thursday about a massive fire at an oil refinery in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil that had been raging since Wednesday night.

Fakhir Talib said he "heard an explosion" and "saw this big fire, and obviously it was the refinery that caught on fire."

"Several fire engines and firefighter teams came but they couldn’t do anything," he added.

At least 10 firefighters were injured from the blaze which had also destroyed three fire trucks, according to the regional civil defense department.

Many firefighters suffered from breathing difficulties due to the thick smoke.

The fire broke out at an asphalt storage facility in an oil refinery on the Irbil-Gwer main road.

More than 40 firefighter teams were battling the inferno, according to the regional civil defense department in Kurdistan.

Thick smoke from the blaze has risen high into the sky, covering part of the city.

Municipality water trucks were rushing to supply fire trucks with water.

A Kurdistan Regional Government official, speaking anonymously because they were not authorized to talk to the media, told The AP that the fire was caused by an electrical fault and was not deliberate.

The refinery, one of the largest in Irbil, produces gasoline, kerosene, and white oil.

It features extensive storage facilities and is a joint venture between the regional government and a private company.

A worker at the refinery told the AP that there are around 40 tanks of fuel at the site, each holding 18,000 liters, and half of them are on fire.

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