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Fire destroys Brazil’s Antarctic outpost, killing two

Brazil’s scientific community is reeling from a fire that blazed through the country’s Comandante Ferraz research station in Antarctica over the weekend, killing two navy personnel and injuring another.

The cause remains unknown, but the Brazilian navy said the fire began Saturday morning in an area that houses energy generators and went on to destroy about 70% of the facility. News reports indicate that more than 40 people had to be evacuated to a base in Chile before being transported back to Rio de Janeiro today (additional photos from Brazil’s Estado de Sao Paulo here). President Dilma Rousseff and the Ministry of Science and Technology vowed to rebuild the research base and push forward with the climate, environmental and biological science conducted at the station, located in the South Shetland Islands off of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Separately, news reports indicate that the Brazilian navy and the state-controlled energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro SA are working to recover a barge that capsized while delivering supplies to the research station (Bloomberg Businessweek). Exactly when the accident occurred remained unclear, but it was apparently unrelated to the fire. The barge contains fuel oil that was destined for the research station, but no leaks have been reported.

Photo: Armada de Chile/AP


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