Five firefighters hurt in chemical blaze that sends sulphur cloud towards Lisbon

Thousands of people were forced to remain barricaded inside their homes this morning after a fire broke out at a chemical factory in Mitrena (Setúbal).

The blaze released a noxious cloud of sulphur that blew towards Lisbon, while five firemen were treated for light injuries sustained in the battle to put it out.

Civil Protection ordered the closure of schools and businesses in the immediate area (taking in communities of Praia do Sado and Faralhão) and told people to protect themselves by staying indoors and putting wet towels round beneath windows and doors.

The advice to remain at home stayed in place past midday, with further communities in the areas of Gambia, Pontes and Alto da Guerra becoming involved as the foul-smelling cloud moved towards the capital.

Civil Protection stressed that despite the smell being horrible, dangers posed by the noxious cloud were minimal.

People with symptoms of smarting eyes and sore throats were advised to call 112 which was keeping up to date with the situation, wrote Diário de Notícias.

On the same day that fire broke out at Lisbon’s iconic Sheraton Hotel, the blaze involved teams of firefighters from Setúbal, Aguas da Moura, Barreiro, Palmela and Pinhal Novo.

It began around 3am in one of the sulphur-storage facilities of agricultural fertilizer manufacturer Sapec, and was so intense that the building is now in danger of completely collapsing.

Civil Protection coordinator José Luís Bucho said the dampening down operation would take days, though on Tuesday afternoon it was still ‘far too hot’ for firefighters to go into the warehouse.

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