Dwellers and employees working on Haskins Street in Francistown took cover on Monday fearing for their lives as a massive explosion erupted at the Francistown Railways Station.
It was confirmed by law enforcement officers that one of the fuel cargoes on the train had exploded and caught fire. Their hasty reaction prevented fatalities.
Station Officer, Judas Mbulawa, of the Francistown Fire Department said at around 0921hrs on Monday morning they got a call that there had been an explosion at Francistown Railways and that one of the train’s fuel cargoes was on fire. He said they immediately dropped everything they were doing and rushed to the railway station to put the fire off.
“Upon arrival on the scene we found that indeed the train was on fire. It had four fuel cargos but only one had erupted into fire. The one that had exploded was carrying a fuel capacity of 55000 litres,” he said. When asked what he thinks caused the fuel cargo to explode Mbulawa said they were informed by Botswana Railway officials that they outsourced their services to a company called Impala to transfer fuel from one cargo to the other.
“So we then asked the Impala company management what they think might have happened and they briefly said they suspect that there was a spark that caused the fuel to quickly go off. So far we only know of one person who got injured during the explosion. But the injury is not all that bad. He got light burns on his hands,” he said.
He further explained that they were able to extinguish the fire completely using a foam concentrate, with no complications incurred. Mbulawa said they encourage people to always have fire extinguishers around them at all times, especially those that work around highly flammable liquids or gases such as fuel. He also implored workers and companies to constantly service their equipment to avoid sparks being started unnecessarily.
Officer commanding for No.15 district, Senior Superintendent, Kabo Badirwang said they got the call at around 0945hrs from Botswana Railways saying one of the fuel cargoes on the train had exploded. He said they also rushed to tend to the matter and indeed confirmed that the train was on fire. “We worked hand in hand with the fire department and made sure we put off the fire on the fuel cargo. Unfortunately I am not in a position to reveal too much information because this is a new incident and we are now tasked at finding out what caused the fire. We are currently doing investigations and questioning some people to find out exactly what happened to cause this fire,” he said.
Botswana Railways officers who were on the scene refused to make an official statement.
Not less than a month ago, the Francistown railways department suffered another setback when the heavy floods experienced in the country caused for travels to be cancelled both Francistown – Lobatse & Lobatse ÔÇô Francistown.