On Tuesday Beirut residents were alarmed when they saw a plume of smoke on the horizon centered at the destroyed Beirut Port, following the Aug.4 massive explosion of ammonium nitrate stores which leveled much of the city, killing hundreds and wounding over 6,000.
Initial reports say piles of debris and garbage caught fire at the port, which still resembles a war zone of twisted metal and towering heaps of charred pieces of destroyed buildings and vehicles.
Fire in Beirut port. As if we can handle the fear. pic.twitter.com/4AQ9hIh8ir— Beirut.com (@BeirutCityGuide) September 8, 2020
Circulation of video showing smoke rising above the area triggered a momentary panic among already traumatized locals, according to correspondents on the ground:
حريق جديد في مرفأ بيروت المدمر... pic.twitter.com/gPsv8ruR2W— Salman Andary (@salmanonline) September 8, 2020
Firefighters and civil defense workers rushed to the scene in what some eyewitnesses feared could be a replay of the original tragedy, also given the recent discovery of yet more ammonium nitrate and other hazardous, potentially explosive chemicals stored there.
Port authorities have since said the small blaze is under control, and it's as yet unclear how it started.
It may be connected to efforts to reduce the rubble and waste still at the site, raising questions of the continued safety and potential volatility of the area.
اخماد الحريق مستمر في المرفأ.. (حريق مخلفات الردم وبقايا الانفجار)..— Salman Andary (@salmanonline) September 8, 2020
There's continued anger at how years of neglect at the port led to the tragic explosion last month.
There's also questions about what port authorities are still allowing to be stored in the area, after the Lebanese Army last week discovered four more tons of the highly explosive ammonium nitrate compound nearby.