Question of will › Fire in supertankers ›

Question of will › Fire in supertankers ›

These days, a uniformed lifeguard waits less than five minutes at a bus stop in the city of Matanzas. After six o’clock Monday afternoon, Israel Tápanes Torres stands in the area known as the Viaducto, backpack over his shoulder, reaching out and demanding a “bottle” from the newspaper truck.

“To the Canimao?” he asks and we say yes. We drive to this hotel on the outskirts of town where part of our team, other journalists and people exposed to the fire are staying.

Israel rises. He is a young man – he is 31 years old, as we will learn later – he is wearing red Cuban Red Cross overalls and a black scarf around his neck, under which a bandage appears to be covering the burn on his neck.

Our curiosity is aroused, what is a lifeguard doing alone at this time, moving through the city? His story in this event began on Friday, August 6 at 7:30 p.m. It was the first time he had faced something like this.

At dawn on Saturday, they tended to the firefighters’ minor injuries in the area of ​​the damaged tanks, then the massive explosion occurred. “It was about running then, a huge haze came over us, I ran and ran and I felt it hit me in the neck.”

He doesn’t know how severe his burn is, the nurse didn’t tell him and he didn’t ask. His bosses would have preferred him to remain reclusive in the accommodation. He wasn’t out the rest of Saturday or Sunday. But after the complex Monday morning, around noon, they sent for him, things promised to get uglier.

After a few blasts, they determined the scenario was not going to get any worse, “and they sent me back to rest.”

We want to know how it is “in there”, whether there are injured or victims; He assures us, no, that there is no destruction in the supertanker facilities, that every time the panorama gets complicated, the armed forces retreat.

He says that after that first morning they are much more cautious and very attentive to the slightest sign.

Israel hails from Los Mangos, a neighborhood in the city of Matanzas; He was a master craftsman in the city curator’s office and is now a grocer at a military facility. He found out about the Red Cross through some friends and decided to join.

After the COVID-19 pandemic subsided less than a year ago, he completed the required training and joined. At that time he only participated in the search and rescue of missing persons.

When asked why he decided to take on such a risky assignment, he replies precisely, and almost exactly as a lifelong lifeguard we interviewed hours earlier on the scene: “It’s voluntary.”

We ask for your opinion on how the fire will develop; His vision is hopeful from what he has discussed with his more experienced colleagues and firefighters.

He does not believe that new explosions can be superior to those already experienced there. But in incidents of this kind nothing is written; except maybe one thing: the will. And Israel is not lacking in that – a drive of just a few minutes is enough for that.