This is no surprise. Hot work has always been a leading cause of fires in industrial settings:
Multiple sources have reported that the disastrous explosion at Port of Beirut was sparked by hot work at a warehouse where officials had stored 2,750 tonnes of confiscated ammonium nitrate and a cache of fireworks. In a new report, senior officials provided Reuters with additional details: early this year they had learned that one of the warehouse’s doors was broken, raising the risk that a malicious actor could steal dangerous explosives. The port’s welding contractors set off the cache while trying to repair the door to protect the cache.
According to the report, the security investigation that set this chain in motion began in January after the broken door and a large hole in the warehouse’s wall were discovered. On June 4 – six months later – state security forces ordered the port to guard the warehouse and make appropriate repairs. On August 4 – two months after the order – the port sent a team of Syrian workers to fix the warehouse. Sparks from their welding work ignited a supply of fireworks, which had been stored next to the ammonium nitrate cache.
As an interesting aside, it appears that we still have no information as to who actually owned the ammonium nitrate which languished for years in a warehouse:
In the murky story of how a cache of highly explosive ammonium nitrate ended up on the Beirut waterfront, one thing is clear — no one has ever publicly come forward to claim it.
There are many unanswered questions surrounding last week’s huge, deadly blast in the Lebanese capital, but ownership should be among the easiest to resolve.
But Reuters interviews and trawls for documents across 10 countries in search of the original ownership of this 2,750-tonne consignment instead revealed an intricate tale of missing documentation, secrecy and a web of small, obscure companies that span the globe.
At this point, I’m pretty sure that there are 3 or 4 oligarchs crapping their pants over the possibility that they are tied to this disaster.