Fuel Tank Fire Causes Cancellations At Miami’s Airport

MIAMI (CBS4) – A number of travelers have found themselves stuck at Miami International Airport after an overnight fire in the fuel farm forced several airlines to cancel flights on Thursday.

The fire broke out around 11 p.m. Wednesday in one of the tanks in the fuel storage area located east of the runways. The fuel farm has six fuel tanks, each holding up to a million gallons of fuel.

“It was a potentially disastrous fire,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Captain Eric Baum.

“Firefighters were working with hundreds of thousands of gallons (of fuel) on all sides of them and trying to get foam on there to prevent the flames from coming up. In addition, we were putting water on these other static tanks to prevent those from boiling over,” said Baum.

More than 100 Miami-Dade firefighters battled the blaze and were able to keep the fire contained to the one tank. They brought the fire under control around 1 a.m. and extinguished it 20 minutes later.

Click Here To See The Fire

“This was a very significant fire and we were able to prevent that fire from spreading out of the immediate area of the tank farm. That’s why the airport was designed that way, to keep that isolated, away from passengers,” said Baum.

Only one flight was delayed for about 45 minutes because of the fire, which happened at a time when there are few flights, airport spokesman Greg Chin said.

A preliminary investigation into the cause has found that a malfunction near one of the fuel pipelines most likely sparked the fire. Because the pumps that provide fuel to the airport are shutdown during the investigation, airport officials have gone to a back up plan to get fuel to the jets.

“Our only capability right now is to truck the fuel to the airport. Therefore it’s going to have an impact on the on-time performance of the outgoing aircraft,” said airport director Jose Abreu.

Hector Pompo said he was scheduled to leave Thursday morning on a business trip, now he’s not going anywhere until at least tomorrow.

“The flight was late, we boarded the plane, they told us to wait for half an hour on the plane.  Then they told us we were one of the flights that got canceled, there goes the trip to Las Vegas,” said Pompo.

American Airlines, the largest carrier at MIA, canceled 22 outgoing flights and 14 inbound flights because of the fuel situation.  A number of airlines in addition to American also announced cancellations and delays.

A family who had arrived at MIA from Brazil found out their connecting flight had been canceled.

“I think it’s terrible because we’ve been flying for ten hours to get here to get our plane to Providenciales,” said Rita.

Travelers with flights out are being urged to contact their airlines to confirm that flights are on time; fueling capacity is expected to be at 40 percent for early flights.

Drivers heading to the airport should to take either State Road 836 or State Road 112.

More from CBSMiami.com Team
  • http://www.corallaw.com Robert Rogers

    What caused this. We are watching from our Condo and are just floored by the size of the fire.

  • Danays

    I was just passing throw there its unbelivable super crazy this will change airport security for a wial again its …it was cool but scary

  • Mike

    Sure hope the find what or who cause this. Maybe one of Obama’s people did this to drive up air fares with another fuel surcharge.

    • ARCHIE

      I think you’re on to something. Can’t trust Obama or his crazy Socialist/Progressives.

      • Avocado876

        teabaggers. there’s no other explanation. there is ZERO logic involved in either of the above comments.

  • Jose Luis Morales

    this happened at the connection point where fuel tanker trucks hook up to refuel… More than likely a fueler messed up so someone is getting FIRE-D

    • Bojack

      Not fired if he’s union!

      • Gandalff

        Bojack is correct… you don’t fire Union.. you can’t! They will blame it on “Training” therefore they will request this employee be retrained properly.

  • Phil Landers

    Working in the fuel industry as I do, I’m gonna have to say . . . . all of these comments are severely uneducated concerning the probabilities. Most likely operator error. Improper grounding and a failure to follow protocol. Haste makes waste and complacency kills. Speculative of course . . . .

    • Michael Ray

      Agreed, Phil. If someone was topping off a truck, and static discharge set this off, the fuel truck operator is history. So far, no injuries? So it had to be caused by something else. I work with airport fueling systems, so I’m watching this situation closely.

  • Robert Goldman

    Worked in MIA, FLL and port everglades while in the states, the fuel farms at all these locations are totally open and easy targets, so until it is known what really happened be it a short or some idiot working in a place he shouldn’t don’t jump down the throat of those that have real security concerns!

    R Goldman

  • Lance

    Okay… Airport… Explosion…

    Is this an “accident” or “terrorism”?

    • LoonsToTheLeftOfMe

      right. I had to read a dozen posts before someone made the same logical deduction that I did. It might have been an accident, but if there were no injuries, that seems to suggest there was no operator standing there to be injured. Don’t forget the 7 jihadis in Florida who were plotting terrorism a couple years ago. We’ve got an explosion at an airport, and nobody thinks of terrorism? Doesn’t anybody remember the jihadis arrested trying to blow up the JFK Airport tank farms?

  • Mission Control

    Hope this is NOT a copy cat of the attempt to blow fuel lines at JFK a few years ago. Perp was found guilty.

  • A Guy

    I gotta laugh. The lady said “Providenciales”, located in Turks and Caicos – a destination that American flies to from MIA. No one flies to Providence, RI from Miami. I’m really surprised that a Miami TV station mis-heard something said in a South American accent.

  • Mortimer Snerd

    “A preliminary investigation into the cause has found that a malfunction near one of the fuel pipelines most likely sparked the fire.”

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