Broco Energy Blaze Ruled Accidental, Caused by Overflowing Oil Reaching Hot Truck Engine

Haverhill firefighters quickly knock down fire at fuel depot. (Mike Jarvis photograph for WHAV News.)

A fire Tuesday that damaged Broco Energy’s fuel oil terminal and destroyed seven vehicles, was caused by accidental ignition of vapor when overflowing oil came into contact with a tanker truck’s hot engine.

Haverhill Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien and state Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said Wednesday afternoon the fire at a Haverhill fuel depot along the railroad came when fuel overflowed while filling a tanker truck.

“Investigators determined that the tank of an oil tanker truck was being refilled when the operator was unable to turn off the flow of oil. Overflow oil between the truck’s cab and tank reached the hot surface of the exhaust and regeneration system, and the spreading vapor ignited. The tanker and several other vehicles were badly damaged or destroyed,” officials said in a statement.

The fire at 168 Hale St., Haverhill, was jointly investigated by the Haverhill Fire Department and the State Police Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s office, with assistance from additional State Police units.

O’Brien told WHAV the department was able to respond within a minute of the call because Engine 2 out of Sixteenth Avenue happened to be out.

“Fantastic job given the potential down there. They were able to get it under control, most of the fire, probably within not even 20 minutes, half hour, that it was in check,” he said.

Ostroskey said no one was injured and there is no indication of criminal conduct.

In a separate statement after the fire, Broco officials said, “The safety of our team members and community are the highest priority here at Broco Energy and we are extremely thankful that no one was hurt. Our highly trained team members helped to ensure the safety of our staff along with the City of Haverhill. A big thank you to our amazing team and all the first responders.⁠”

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