Fire in Free Trade Zone Kills One and Injures Six Firemen

Wednesday, October 31 2007 @ 11:02 am EDT

Contributed by: Don Winner

By Ana Bolena Ayarza for El Siglo - A fire in a warehouse in the France Field area of the Colon Free Trade Zone that burned for more than four hours resulted in the death of Major Dimas Sanabria, the Third Chief of the Firemen of Colon, six other firemen with electrical burns, and damages to five companies. The fire, which started at 3:00 pm in the afternoon of Tuesday, 30 October, was still burning as of this writing, and had spread to almost then entire block due to a lack of water pressure in the fire hydrants, causing firemen to try to use sea water in an attempt to extinguish the fire. The fire started in the spaces of Hisa International which distributes cigarette lighters and textiles. (more)

Editor's Comment: Great. No water pressure in the hydrants in the Colon Free Trade Zone. The power company informs the firemen the power has been cut, when in fact the wires are still live. The warehouse that caught fire was full of cardboard boxes of butane lighters burning off, each a little mini-explosion. The firemen had to resort to a virtual bucket-brigade of sea water in tanker trucks when what they really needed was foam (early on.) Apparently this fire burned all night. The firemen just pulled back and poured seawater on from the outside. They simply don't have the resources to attack. At that point your only option is to pull back, establish and hold a line, contain the fire in a set zone, and then let it burn itself out. Sooner or later Panama will learn the lessons with regards to fire safety that the rest of the world has already learned but that certainly has not happened yet. Condolences to the family of Major Dimas Sanabrias. Any chance Elecktra Noreste will be held responsible for his death? Don't hold your breath.

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The fire spread and effected spaces owned by Milakey, Westinghouse, Adisa, Milwaukee, Demo Cola, and Nacional Electronic, among others.

The Commander of the Firemen in Colon Felipe Fung said the incident is incident of the wounded is lamentable, although it should not have happened, because the first thing they teach the firemen in their training is to protect themselves first.

Nevertheless they took the precaution to ask employees of the Elecktra Noreste to make sure that electrical power had been cut off to the building so they could work and they assured the firemen that the power was cut, and they were surprised to find out that in fact the power was still on.

In addition he said none of the fire hydrants in the area had any water pressure, and in addition the cargo containers in the area prevented them from doing their work. Firemen were forced to use sea water and to refill tanker trucks round-trip, and that they are working to try to save the businesses that have not been effected by the fire.

Lamentably, this fire resulted in the death of Third Chief, Fire Major Dimas Sanabrias, who died as a result of an accidental electrocution.

In addition two firemen were seriously wounded. Manuel Abrego, 38 years old, and Alberto Robinson, 40 years old, were transferred by helicopter to Panama City to be treated for werious burns over large areas of their bodies.

In addition also injured but less severely were Ada Ramos (40), Alberto Machado (40), and Miguel Vaughan (54), and Marcos Porras (54), all of whom were treated and kept for observation at a local hospital.

En incendio en France Field

Muere bombero y seis sufrieron descargas eléctricas

Ana Bolena Ayarza

COLÓN. La muerte del mayor Dimas Sanabria, tercer jefe del Cuerpo de Bomberos de Colón, 6 bomberos que sufrieron descargas eléctricas y más de 5 empresas incendiadas fue el resultado de un incendio que se dio por más de 4 horas en el área de France Field en la Zona Libre de Colón.

El incendio, que se inició casi a las 3 de la tarde, a la hora de redactar esta nota, aún se mantenía y se había extendido casi a una manzana entera, ya que la falta de agua en los hidrantes provocó que los bomberos tuvieran que utilizar agua de mar para tratar de sofocarlo.

Empresas afectadas

El incendio inició en la empresa Hisa Internacional, que se encarga de distribuir encendedores y textiles. Se extendió hasta las empresas Milakey, Westinghouse, Adisa, Milwaukee, Demo Cola y Nacional electronic, entre otras

El comandante del Cuerpo de Bomberos de Colón, Felipe Fung, indicó que el incidente de los heridos es lamentable, aunque no debería haber sucedido, ya que en los entrenamientos lo primero que se hace es instruir al personal de que el bombero primero debe cuidarse a sí mismo, sin embargo se tomó la precaución de solicitarle a los funcionarios de Elecktra Noreste que le cerraran los circuitos para poder trabajar y estos le garantizaron que así lo habían hecho, pero para sorpresa no fue y se observa el resultado lamentable que se dio.

Además, indicó que ninguno de los hidrantes tenía presión de agua, más los contenedores que no le permitían trabajar, entonces tuvieron que utilizar agua de mar y abastecer los carros ida y vuelta, por lo que estaban trabajando por salvar las empresas que no habían sido afectadas y salvar las que no se habían tocado.

Un muerto y 6 heridos

Lamentablemente, en este incendio se dio la muerte del tercer comandante en jefe, el mayor Dimas Sanabrias, por descarga eléctrica, así como resultaron con heridas graves los bomberos Manuel Abrego, de 38 años y Alberto Robinson, de 40 años, que tuvieron que ser trasladados en helicópteros hacia la ciudad de Panamá, ya que presentaban quemaduras graves en gran parte del cuerpo.

Mientras, resultaron con heridas menores Ada Ramos, Alberto Machado, de 40 años; Miguel Vaughan, de 54 y Marcos Porras, de 54; quienes fueron atendidos y dejados bajo observación en un centro hospitalario.

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