Firefighters in Haifa, Israel are battling to control a fire that has broken out at an oil refinery in the north of the city of Haifa, that broke out early on the morning of Monday 26 December 2016. The cause of the fire is not yet known, though it is known to have started in a 12 000 m² container of benzine, which was about 10% full at the time when the fire broke out (while this seems good at first sight, with less fuel in the tank to burn, a largely empty tank will, unless deliberately flooded with an inert gas, contain significant amounts of air, and therefore oxygen, making it harder to extinguish). The blaze is expected to continue for most of the day, with firefighters concentrating on preventing the fire spreading to neighbouring fuel tanks. The road leading to the refinery has been closed to normal traffic and local authorities are recommending residents of the area remain in their homes to avoid any fumes coming from the fire. There are no reports of any casualties associated with this event.
Benzine is a naturally occurring aromatic compound that forms a significant proportion of many crude oils, and which produces the sweet small associated with many petroleum products. It is used in the manufacture of many chemicals used in industry, including plastics, polymers and fuel additives. Benzine is associated with a number of health problems, being highly carcinogenic and known to cause damage to the bone marrow, liver, kidneys, lungs and central nervous system.
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