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Poor safety measures to blame for fire at salvage site

Poor safety measures to blame for fire at salvage site

Niël Terblanché

A FIRE broke out on a derelict vessel moored at a jetty in the Walvis Bay fishing harbour while salvage workers were busy cutting up the metal hull to be sold as scrap.


A thick cloud of black smoke quickly rose above Walvis Bay as old oil in the derelict hull burned causing residents of the harbour town to rush to the scene at the part of United Fishing’s yard where the salvage work was conducted.


According to the chief of the Walvis Bay Fire Brigade, Dennis Basson, the fire was in all likely hood caused by red hot metal igniting old oil at the bottom of the hull.

“Luckily the salvage works has progressed to a point where the entire deck and deck structures of the old vessel has been cut away already and none of the workers were trapped inside. We managed to put out the flames quite quickly and ensured that the flames would not ignite again because of residual heat caused by the flames.”


Basson said poor safety standards at salvage sites in the harbour are the main cause of several such fires per year. He said vessels that are in the process of being broken down often still have many flammable materials on board which can easily ignite.


The fire chief said none of the workers were injured during the fire and that no significant damage was caused to the surrounding infrastructure and vessels that were moored at the same jetty.

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