Lebanon has had more than its share of various air and surface pollution issues in recent years. Some of these issues have included dumping loads of garbage straight into the Mediterranean; as well as a giant garbage mound in Sidon that is so serious that boats at sea smell it before seeing it. Recent fires at tire dumping landfill sites have also been reported, including a recent tire dump fire outside Beirut that was suspected as being intentionally set by people wanting to retrieve the steel reinforcing material from inside the tires themselves in order to resell it. Another prime contributor to air pollution near the country’s capital, occurred on Friday when a carpet factory fire broke out at a large carpet factory in the town of Safra, just north of Beirut.
As reported in The Daily Star, the fire broke out on the east side of the last floor of the five-story Byblos Carpets factory building shortly after 9 a.m. but the flames soon engulfed the lower levels of the structure. An hour later, the top floors collapsed, raining chunks of debris down onto the street below.
The Star went on to say that five workers in the factory were evacuated by the Red Cross and taken to hospital, where there were being treated for respiratory problems caused by smoke inhalation. The fire was brought under control by fire brigade units consisting of more than 20 trucks.
Later, however, the fire broke out again when some of the floors in the ruined factory were being demolished. Many residents living in the immediate area of the fire, left their homes to escape the smoke and fumes caused by the fire as reported on Lebanese TV News.
Unlike the tire fire at the Karantina landfill site, the fire at the Byblos carpet factory was said to have been accidental. The environmental damage was said to have been made worse due to a large number of oil canisters on a lower floor, which also were in danger of igniting. Doumet Kamel, head of Lebanon’s World Environment Party, told the Lebanon Star that: “This is an environmental disaster. There should be a study into the effects of the chemicals inside the factory on the environment.”
This type of fire is just another example of not enough safety precautions being taken to lessen the seriousness of such a fire. The economic loss to the building alone is more than $80 million dollars. The environmental damages to the vicinity where the factory is located will obviously be felt for some time to come.
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