Over $50 million damages incurred so far in massive border crossing fire

The enormous fire that destroyed more than 500 trucks at the Islam Qala port facility in Herat province, along the border with Iran, has left business owners reeling as financial losses are estimated to be over $50 million.

The massive fire burned for over 24 hours after a fuel tanker reportedly exploded at midday on Saturday.

Explosions continued for hours and two very large ones, just after 1 pm local time on Saturday, were seen from space, NASA reported.

The fire quickly spread through the facility destroying trucks and Herat officials, who were unable to bring the fire under control, eventually appealed to Iran for help.

Iranian firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze on Sunday afternoon, sources confirmed.

Health officials meanwhile said that at least 50 people who sustained burn wounds were transferred to hospitals in Iran.

The cause of the fire has not yet been established but officials said an investigating team has been assigned to the case.

Business owners however blasted the government on Sunday and said corruption among customs officials, the lack of standard regulations around vehicle checks, long border crossing processes and lack of facilities at the land port was of serious concern.

Younus Qazizada, the head of the Herat Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said the fire had caused millions of dollars in damage. “Preliminary investigations show that more than $50 million of damage has been caused by the fire so far,” he said.

The Islam Qala border crossing is around 120km west of the city of Herat and is a major transit route between Afghanistan and Iran.

The US allows Afghanistan to import fuel and oil from Iran as part of a special concession that exempts Kabul from US sanctions against Iran.