Blaze destroys chemical site in Gothenburg

A fire broke out early on Wednesday morning on an industrial site in Gothenburg's Gamlestaden district. There are no reports of injuries and by afternoon most of the fire had been extinguished.

The site’s owned by metallurgical coating company Provexa AB. The fire brigade were concentrating their efforts on preventing water which had been used to put out the blaze from running into the nearby Göta river. The polluted water was being pumped into a series of tankers for transportation and disposal. The fire was attended by a unit specialised in chemical accidents, based at the Kortedala station.

The fire brigade got the alarm at about 6.50am. They were on the scene five minutes later. In all, men from five stations attended the incident, including fire fighters who had been on their way home from their night shift.

The building was completely ablaze within a very short space of time, so no attempt was made to put it out. Instead, the fire fighters concentrated on preventing it spreading and making sure it was under reasonable control. A column of thick black smoke immediately rose skywards.

Properties immediately adjacent to the site were evacuated. Otherwise, only residents in the immediate area or where there was visible smoke were asked to stay indoors and keep windows shut. At one stage, the smoke could be smelt in many parts of the city. Although the smoke gave a prickly sensation in the throat, the commanding fire officer, Håkan Andersson, didn’t think it was too dangerous:

“All smoke from fires is toxic,” he told GP. “This smoke is a little more so than normal.”

It was still unclear on Wednesday afternoon what the cause of the fire was. A large amount of chemicals are stored on the site, including 300 cubic metres of acid and cyanide. A large amount of packaging and plastic containers were also destroyed.

“We’ve avoided using water to extinguish the fire to reduce the risk of chemicals running into the river. This is the biggest chemical fire I’ve attended in my 15 years,” commented Andersson.

Sources: Göteborgs Posten