Gas pipe fire near Standerton, Mpumalanga
A gas pipe fire between Heymans Kole and Secunda, which erupted in early hours of Sunday morning, 21 July 2019, disrupting traffic on the R546 highway, has been contained. It’s understood that the gas pipe fire emanated from a series of unfortunate events. Shortly before 3h00 on Sunday morning, a fuel tanker caught on fire and veered off to the side of the road. This, in turn, sparked a vicious veld fire which managed to ignite the flammable gas within the pipe leading from Heymans Kole to Secunda. Three agencies cooperated to contain the fire; Sasol Secunda, Govan Mbeki Local Municipality (GMM) and Lekwa Local Municipality. GMM chief fire officer, Shelley Shabalala, says the initial report was of a truck on fire and her first engine reached the scene at 3h20,
The truck had already burned beyond recognition and its the product was still burning on the field next to the gas pipe chamber with the unknown product was burning with high volatile smoke and well alight, the fire was not spreading. Back up from Sasol Emergency service was requested.
GMM eMbalenhle Fire Station senior station officer, ND Dhludhlu, says they attacked the fire by applying foam but the fire was not suppressed; instead it was burning fiercely. On assessment with arrival of Sasol Fire it was then discovered that the fire was coming from the gas pipe chamber. It was then decided that the gas pipe maintenance team must be contacted and come to isolate before fire fighting operation can continues.
After the isolation was done, the fire operation commenced and the fire was extinguished and cooling off was done. Fire fighters did an assessment of the scene to ensure that the fire does not re-ignite. The scene was declared safe and handed over to SAPS and Hazmat Spill team, they returned back to base at 20H12.
The total resources used to complete the incident included 18 fire personnel, Two Medium Pumpers, Two Water Tankers, Two Foam Tankers, an Industrial Pumper, Two Respond vehicles and a Fire Bakkie. +- 100 000 litres of water and +- 30 000 foam used. Charl Cilliers South African Police Services (SAPS) and Provincial Traffic Officers were in attendance. According to SAPS, the incident was reported by the pass-by motorist, the truck driver was not accounted for and truck details where unobtainable. Dhludhlu reports that it’s possible the truck driver was attempting to steal product. The initial estimated damage was +- R10 000 000.
Late Sunday afternoon, Sasol issued a statement regarding the gas pipe fire, confirming that it initially resulted from a third-party fuel tanker incident. Sasol said, “A third party tanker caught fire at one of Transnet’s redundant crude oil pipelines, about 10 kilometres from Standerton. The incident occurred on the same valve pit near a Transnet gas line that transports Sasol gas.
The gas line has been temporarily decommissioned as a precautionary measure. Sasol emergency services were dispatched to the scene to assist. The fire has been contained and emergency services are on site.”
Sasol confirmed that the gas line would only be recommissioned once it was safe to do so.
It’s understood that the R546 between Standerton and Charl Cilliers reopened to traffic on Sunday evening, after emergency services and clean up crews had deemed the route safe for travel.
Source: Govan Mbeki Local Municipality chief fire officer, Shelley Shabalala and The South African