An oil storage facility was set on fire on Friday after a freak lightning strike ignited the area, taking over five days to settle as one firefighter is reported to be killed and many more injured while blackouts occur across the country.

Lightning struck one of the storage tanks in Matanzas, which is the largest port in Cuba for receiving imported fuel and crude oil. By Sunday, the fire had spread to a second tanker and engulfed four tanks by Monday, with firefighters disturbed by explosions as they attempted to kill the fire, according to the Guardian.

There were eight tanks all in all, and the first tank that was struck was reportedly only half-full, though the second tank to catch on fire appeared to have double the amount that the first tank has, al-Jazeera reported.

“The situation is going to be more difficult. If the thermoelectric plants are supplied with that oil, we are going to have the whole world affected, it is electricity and it affects everything,” Firefighter Rafael Pérez Garriga said.

By Tuesday, the fire had been put into control, but at the price of over 40% of the storage oil facility, with blackouts reportedly being caused by the sudden reduction of oil supplies inside of the country, CNN reported.

It is unclear as of press time how much oil has been lost to the fire. Authorities have also warned people in Havana and other nearby towns to wear face masks due to the smoke generated by the fire, and to anticipate acid rain in the area.

“We have not yet been able to access the impact area due to the conditions. There is combustion and so we cannot risk our lives for now,” Pérez said.

It was reported on Saturday that over 121 people were injured by the fire. By Tuesday, one firefighter has died while 14 remained missing, with five people remaining in critical condition due to their proximity to the fire.

A lightning strike in Cuba on Friday caused a fire to four oil tankers in the country for five days, destroying 40% of the facility whilst killing one firefighter as fourteen others went missing. This is a representational image. Lucas Kapla/Unsplash.

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