Fuel fires major blast

BIG BLAST: One person was taken to hospital after the explosion in Silverdale.
BIG BLAST: One person was taken to hospital after the explosion in Silverdale.

A man was taken to hospital with burns after a shed used to store almost 1000 litres of oil and diesel caught fire and exploded in spectacular fashion last night.

More than 40 firefighters were called to the blaze at an abandoned lot in Silverdale, 25 minutes from Auckland city, about 5.15pm and were at the scene for six hours.

The fire, at a site on Manga Rd, started in a shed before soon moving on to neighbouring property.

One oil barrel exploded letting off a fireball just after firefighters arrived.

"There was no one inside at the time, but one person was taken to hospital with burns," Silverdale fire chief Vaughan Mackereth said.

The man worked for the owner of the shed and was in the area decanting fuel, fire investigator Mike McEnaney said.

''Indications are, for whatever reason, there was a small fire caused which resulted in a fairly substantial explosion.''

The burning petrol and diesel required special extinguishing techniques and the presence of the Hazardous Materials Incident Command truck.

"We extinguished it with foam because fuel burns on top of water," Mackereth added.

McEnaney said the only thing that was operating in the shed at the time was a cooling system keeping the refined fuel at five degrees Celsius.

''At some stage that fuel had to be decanted out of the holding tank. Whether correct safety practise was being used or not, we don't know. Something obviously went badly wrong.

''We are still investigating where it started exactly and why it occurred.''

He said the fire would have gone from a small fire to a decent explosion in a very short space of time. 

''It looks as though the man had made some attempt to deal with the fire but it wasn't containable.''

Investigations are continuing.

Auckland Now