Firefighters progressing in stopping oil-well fires in Iraq

Thomson Reuters

With the horizon blackened with thick billowing smoke, Islamic State militants have left a dark mark on the northern Iraqi town of Qayyara.

The militants once controlled these oil fields and refineries, bringing in nearly $700,000 a day back in 2014.

But as the Iraqi army took back control this year, IS fled, setting the fields on fire.

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The fires left a major mess for firefighters, who now control seven out of the 18 wells affected by the fires, says Northern Oil Company engineer Ayad Khalaf.

%shareLinks-quote="An oil-well fire is unlike anything else. Once it erupts in an uncontrolled explosion, it turns into a natural force. So it is difficult to overcome. It is not like a normal fire." type="quote" author="Ayad Khalaf" authordesc="Northern Oil Company engineer " isquoteoftheday="false"%

But with the militants gone, Khalaf says they're making progress and working as fast as they can.

Khalaf adds, "We can say that we are past the crisis and we are in control of the nearby wells that affect the environment. We are moving forward and working non-stop at various locations."

Nonstop work that firefighters and officials hope will bring clear skies back to Qayyara and soon.

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