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Massive Fire at Lumber Yard in Shipyard; 1 Person Injured

Jul 18, 2023

Massive Fire at Lumber Yard in Shipyard; 1 Person Injured

We begin tonight’s newscast with a fire in the Shipyard community in the north. Social media has been buzzing with a live video that captured this huge fire at a lumber yard in that Mennonite community. The blaze could be seen from a distance and there were several explosions from nearby gas tanks that came within the path of the fire.  The fire was caused when a pump offloading crude oil at the lumber yard burst out in flames. The driver of the trailer received burns to his body, but survived the ordeal; neighbours managed to salvage the towhead before it too caught fire.  Crown’s Lumber Yard is estimating a loss of two hundred thousand dollars. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

Duane Moody, Reporting

Just before five p.m. on Monday, an oil tanker exploded at a lumber yard in Camp Eight in the Mennonite community of Shipyard.  The vehicle belonging to M. Leiva and Sons Trucking Company was offloading crude oil to a stationary tank at Crown’s Lumber Yard.  During this transfer, oil escaped from the feeder hose to the pump which caught fire.

Benjamin Crown

Benjamin Crown, Owner, Crown’s Lumber Yard

“He came, he had to unload first elsewhere. A truck came here and had the hose which had problems. Crude oil was leaking. And it spilled over to the gasoline and that’s when it caught on fire. He came out and here. He went out and here in a little while a lot of people came to help us. And we struggled to start the truck from there so that the truck would not burn and until the end that someone arrived who removed the lock, they took the truck out and took it out onto the street. And the balance here burned. It’s 9,000 gallons. And I think it burned and they imitate that it has 3000 inside that they poured the liquid on it because it was burning upstairs and a friend came with..and they put it there and the fire was extinguish- my tank did not burst.”

The fuel tank exploded a short while after and over nine thousand gallons of crude oil spilled onto the property. The dark trail on the ground shows how the oil quickly spread and with it huge flames that could be seen from a distance. Several oil tanks along its path exploded before the fire consumed a shed with over a hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of lumber and other equipment.

Benjamin Crown 

“My lumber shed got burnt with all of the wood that was there and those planks that you see there. That’s a value of 150 thousand dollars,. The crude oil then leaked ran to there and then it circled towards the shed and that’s why all of that was burnt. Yes they arrived, but it took about an hour and a half. And when they arrived there was no one who knew how to operate the machine. They could not have helped me.  They wanted to but they couldn’t.  They brought me water, and that water is parked there. Waiting to see if it will be ready and with that we were managed to control the fire so that I don’t lose everything I have.”

Amir Leiva

Amir Leiva, the driver of the truck was burnt in the process. Employees at the lumber yard were quick to render assistance and he was rushed to the Northern Medical Plaza in Orange Walk for medical attention.

Benjamin Crown 

“My grandchildren and my workers who were there working, they saw it. They ran to tell the driver because the drive was on the road, he wasn’t here but when the driver came it was already too late. He closed the hose and he remove it and the crude oil spread more and from there it caught on fire. The driver got burnt on his leg.”

Leiva received minor burns to his right foot and left arm, but his injuries were not life threatening, so he was treated and discharged. Benjamin Crown tells the media that he received over two hundred thousand dollars in damages.

Benjamin Crown 

“I told the police that, then I will not get nothing. He said no no no. It was an accident, nothing more. So I said, no man! No no no no no no no. The insurance has to come here because I will not be satisfied. My business is insured here in Shipyard. They have come to check and when I showed them where the fire originated, they didn’t agree because it was not my fault. That was not my fire. It was because of a machine the brought that they were not supposed to. It is prohibited to have a machine like that- to unload crude oil like that- very dangerous.”

Duane Moody for News Five.