BEIRUT — Opposition MP Melhem Khalaf announced Saturday that an “agreement” has been made to extinguish the fire at the Beirut port’s grain silos, which have been burning for more than a week amid fears that efforts to fight it would cause the structure to collapse.
Here’s what we know:
• “We visited the site of the fire yesterday accompanied by blast victims’ relatives and, after insisting on contacting the concerned ministers, met with the ministers of Public Works, Environment and Economy and the Governor of Beirut. It was agreed that the fire will be extinguished in cooperation with the Lebanese army, with hopes that this agreement will be enacted today,” Khalaf wrote on Twitter.
• A firefighting helicopter was spotted dousing the flames Saturday, however an army spokesperson told L’Orient Today that he had not been informed that any helicopters had been deployed to the site to extinguish the fire.
• Fires have repeatedly erupted at the port silos in recent days. While authorities have said they intend to demolish the silos, claiming that they could collapse at any time, and so constitute a safety risk, civil society groups and port blast victims’ families have repeatedly called for their preservation. Port Silo General Director Assad Haddad told AFP that the heat generated by the fire was not sufficient to cause structural damage or emit toxic fumes. During a visit to the site, caretaker Economy Minister Amin Salam told local news Al Jadeed that “fires will continue as long as wheat remains,” noting that the wheat also maintained the stability of the silos which “if emptied, could collapse.”