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RAWALPINDI, Oct 10: Quick action by firefighters saved the Benazir Bhutto International Airport from a major disaster on Wednesday, but burnt two workers of a ‘generator room’ at the airport.

Worker Aleem Ahmad inadvertently caused the freak incident while “boiling engine oil to fill an electric transformer” in the room, airport sources said.

Had the fire fighting staff of the Civil Aviation Authority not responded quickly to the emergency, the fire could have spread to the nearby aviation fuel tanks and caused a catastrophe, according to the sources.

Co-worker Mohammad Iqbal, a carpenter, was the first to answer his cries for help and was burnt by the boiling oil that had spilled on the generator room’s rubber floor and set it on fire.

“Iqbal suffered 20 per cent burns on both his legs from the flames and the spilt boiling oil. He was taken to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) and is stated to be in stable condition,” airport manager Mohammad Ishfaq Hussain told Dawn.

He was proud of the bravery and professionalism shown by the generator room and fire fighting staff of the airport.

“We would have had a big problem on our hands if the fire had not been controlled timely,” said the airport manager.

Airport sources said Aleem was using a crudely-made heating rod to boil engine oil in a bucket when he fumbled and spilt the hot oil. It set some electrical equipment sparking, and the rubber floor sizzling and on fire.

Senior airport management officers inspected the scene after the fire was brought under control. They seized the heating rod and the bucket for a departmental inquiry into the incident.

Though it did disturb flight operations and other airport activities, the incident made airport employees panic.