Thick smoke rises from a fire after a leak from an oil pipeline near Cairo Image Credit: Social Media

Cairo: A massive fire that hit an oil pipeline near Cairo on Tuesday, has not affected residential areas in the vicinity Egypt’s environment Ministry said.

The fire broke out Tuesday afternoon, spewing thick black smoke after the underground pipeline, carrying crude oil, fractured next to a highway linking Cairo and the coastal city of Ismailia.

Seventeen people were injured and 31 cars charred by the blaze that was later put out, according to official figures.

The Environment Ministry said that the prevalent wind in the area during the three-hour fire helped the resulting fumes swirl into the desert hinterland. Thus, the highly populous areas north and west of the incident site were not affected, according to the ministry.

Weather data also showed that the vertical ventilation was so good at the time of the fire that it let fumes go upward, limiting their impact on the low levels of the ground, the ministry added.

“Swift response of the civil defence and the Armed Forces, and their success in controlling the fire in a record time before the nightfall spared areas in north and east Cairo an acute air pollution crisis at night,” the ministry added.

The Oil Ministry technicians were Wednesday repairing the affected pipeline that transports the crude from the area of Shaqir off the Red Sea to Moustard in north Cairo.

The cause of the fracture that resulted in an oil leakage is not clear yet. But oil officials suggested that the fire might have been caused by a spark from a passing car on the spill-hit road.