At least 36 firefighting crews from across the State of Israel worked together to battle a massive blaze that broke out Thursday afternoon at a vegetable oil storage complex at the Haifa Port.
A collection of warehouses that were storing some 80 tonnes of the sunflower and olive oil in advance of distillation and bottling caught fire, according to Ynet. Thick black smoke billowed up in the air, and drivers were forced to find detours as traffic routes in the area were blocked for hours.
One firefighter was injured in the effort to fight the blaze and evacuated to a nearby hospital, according to local medical personnel.
Of equally deep concern was an announcement by the Environmental Protection Ministry that the roof of the warehouse was made of asbestos. The ministry warned that special precautions will need to be taken after the fire is extinguished to prevent public exposure to the dangerous substance.
Officials are meanwhile warning the public to stay away from the area in order to avoid the poisonous fumes, although there has been no directive for nearby residents to evacuate their homes. Workers in nearby factories, however, were told to go home.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.