, , , , , ,

On the morning of Sunday of Advent, December 19, 1982, “The Devil” came down to bathe at “TACOA” as well as do thousands of Caracas in the pre-Christmas holidays, vacation time and ideal day for a deserved rest after a whole year of hard work, but only this time, this nefarious individual came inviting “Death” tragedy and destruction was his lunch.

This happened in real life, not just any story, it happened more or less as follows, as all the main witnesses died in the same incident.

It was a typical cold decembrina morning with little wind, the routine work of three workers of La Electricidad de Caracas, were developed completely normal; NATERA LUIS, and ALEXIS RODRIGUEZ JOSE MANUEL ALSAUL, performing the same daily task entrusted as always, download and decant fuel, 16,000 liters, the so-called FUEL OIL, this time from the tanker ship.; No. 8 Murachi the tank storage COMPLEX ELECTRICAL GENERATION located in TACOA, Reefs, Mcpio Vargas, Distrito Federal (now State Vargas), when at about quarter past six there was an explosion in the air to control the three workers who supervised the unloading, only ALEXIS ALSAUL, stay alive, his two companions were released so far that physically disappeared, it is believed fell into the sea, ALEXIS even with severe burns achievement run and activate the alarm of fire, section immediately call “A” and “B” of the men in blue, these are located in La Guaira they came rushing to extinguish the fire began.

42 dedicated men Blue members Mcpio Fire Department. Vargas came out ready to fight the voracious fire that was raging in Tank No. 8, and threatening other deposits near the initial fire fuels.

The magnitude of the conflagration took intensity that was out of control, more reinforcement firefighting units were called, attended sections of the Marine Firemen guard the port of La Guaira, and drives immediate intervention of FIRE aeronautical International Airport ” Simon Bolivar “located in Maiquetia.

Already thousands of bathers went down the highway to enjoy a beach Sunday, from there there a dense column of black smoke was seen rising hundreds of meters, but not the precise site of the fire was located, many decided to divert their approach to gawk vehicles to the beaches of Catia La Mar.

Metropolitan Police and National Guardsmen were sent to cordon off the area and keep curious people from approaching the fire site over the reality was different, hundreds of residents of a neighborhood near you wake up with the passage of time around the perimeter fence playgrounds fuel tanks were engaged in observing the fire in the front row from home, raised early on by the deafening noise of the blast and the wail of sirens of emergency vehicles.

Many people approached on foot to look around what was happening, since the Maiquetia Airport had sent a helicopter belonging to the Metropolitan Police the YV-O-PM-6 pilot Capt. (AV-C) GIOVANUCHI, flew over the fire area reporting the details and coordinating radio through Maiquetía control tower operations firefighting.

The first radio stations had the initial news unfolding, it indicated with fanfares;”EXTRA” … “EXTRA” … “EXTRA” … “Ultima Hora”, a raging fire … TACOA RECORDED IN! Announced speakers with loud voices.

While they are throwing Radio Extras IMDb air, the Social Media; Newspapers and TV, localizaban its reporters calling them home urgently, sending them without knowing their teams of photographers and cameramen to an appointment with “Death”.

Lots of curious people began to lose Caracas to La Guaira to see the fire, that originated a strong congestion on the highway, and at midmorning more than a hundred men fighting the fire, while others were sent as relays, units sections guard Dtto Fire Department. Federal, Fire Dtto. Sucre (currently FIRE THIS), Voluntary Civil Defense, NATIONAL GUARD, Metropolitan Police, technicians from PDVSA, Electricidad de Caracas and other bodies and agencies were given appointment in Tacoa.

At about noon the fire was controlled, numerous personalities were involved in statements on the incident yield to media interviews live from the site of the events and that was when “El Diablo” and “Death” decided to take a dip in the tank NO: 9, exactly 12 hours 35 minutes, “explodes” the said tank.

A unit of the Fire Department Aeronautical, which encotraban at the time of the explosion were built by Magirus Deuz unit: Sgt Luis Gregorio Merente, Los Dtgdo Nelson Fernandez Firefighter Angel Pena and Dtgdo Jose Ignacio Avila Orta, salienron unscathed from the explosion. The one who died on the site was the Cap Luis Eduardo Perez Perez.

“DEATH” guest came rochelera, your ad was tremendous, a huge explosion like a volcano pouring fuel into all possible directions, a rain of fire the helicopter YV-O-PM-6 was approached perched at that moment on the beach near Tacoa, pilot Capt.GIOVANUCHI, v io as it began to melt the Plexiglas your windshield, got out and ran to the sea where I dived behind came a fireball that fell and burning everything in its path, hundreds of people were astonished and awestruck unreacted and they were hit by the rain of fire that rained from the sky.

Rivers of fire down the slopes of Tacoa to the sea, thousands of curious and firefighting personnel ran for their lives, the fire just over 500 homes in the area, hundreds of cars were embraced by the flames and all cars Fire and Police including helicopter fire being totally charred.

“Tamakum”, a popular fisherman Tacoa which had a small fried fish restaurant and a slipway for boats, succored many who took to the seas, the other fishermen of Arrecife, they sailed in their peñeros, rescuing and moving to secure land to hundreds of people as those who survived ran toward the sea, on land was hell everything was in flames, the fuel is mixed with the leagues waters of fire floating on the sea but despite this “tamakum “it served as a true man of the sea and FIREFIGHTER MARINO.

This December 19 marks the anniversary will be fulfilled over something that should never happen, more than 160 people were officially declared Deaths by found her charred remains, some more would die in different hospitals victims of severe burns, more than a hundred Missing claimed by relatives, a number of undetermined people were with various wounds and burns of first, second and third grade, hundreds of people left without homes and belongings, more than 50 firefighters were killed that day, another top number between Social Communicators, Police and Volunteers.

Tacoa Sunday Christmas ash

Firefighters learned the lessons left by the fire


La Guaira. In December 1982 there was no Christmas in Vargas.

At 6:15 am on 19 that month, just five days before the celebration of the birth of Jesus, an explosion woke the neighbors Ricardo Zuloaga thermoelectric plant, still numbed by the sea breeze impregnated with petroleum odor. Moments earlier, in the inside of the plant Electricidad de Caracas, Luis Natera, Jose Manuel Rodriguez and Alexis Alsaúl, charged that day to monitor the discharge of 16,000 liters of fuel oil transported by the oil Murachi, they had encountered a problem eight in the tank where the fuel would be deposited.

To determine the source of the problem they approached the place, they opened the hatch and there was the explosion. Natera and Rodriguez disappeared instantly.

Alsaúl, wounded, he triggered the alarm that alerted Caracas 18 firefighters on duty in the delegation of La Guaira.

Freddy Suarez, today Fire Department Lieutenant Vargas was in the second group of officials to reach the site. That December 19 met just three days of receiving the title of apagafuego. 25 other partners belonging to the promotion of Silence Heroes, were in the place, thinking firefighting just needed water, pressure and courage.

Second explosion. But fate in store for them another future to them, volunteers, nine journalists and onlookers who were near the fire. “After several hours, I went with others to find food when the tank exploded 9. tried to get back but the fire and the heat does not let us move forward,” Suarez recalls.

“I saw when they flew through the air firefighters and journalists,” recalls Zaida Acosta, one of the curious who observed the events.

Their commander, Captain Luis Eduardo Perez, spoke with journalists, including Carlos Moros, El Universal, and Marianela Russa, Venezolana de Television reporter, when the explosion occurred.

Further back was the photographer of Ultimas Noticias, Román Rosales and two hundred meters away from the fire was Mirian Morillo, who thanks to his caution was to tell, although the journalist of our newspaper rather have removed the very last of its present.

“For a long time did not read any news about Tacoa” said Morillo, who would they grafted skin on both arms.

Uncountable. Acosta, whose daughter still lives a few meters from the plant, says the heat burned his arms. But others fared worse. “I saw girls with legs disfigured and knew of others who died walled for oil”.

A blanket of fuel oil slid to the beach, chasing the desperate jumped overboard.Captain Giovanuchi watching the firefighting actions from the helicopter he was piloting had to jump into the sea to save her life.

Local fishermen saved many wounded.

Two days later he spoke of 150 dead, including 56 firefighting personnel according to the Fire Department of Caracas.

Past 20 years, Suarez says that 180 bodies got noticed, while many others, including firefighting, volunteers, police and neighbors rest in the cemetery of the Unknown located in Southern General Cemetery.

Hard learning. “It hurts to see fellow die,” says the lieutenant, but adds that after the tragedy became aware firefighters.

“At that time there was no integration between the plant and firefighters did not know what kind of combustible material we faced and we lacked professional capacity,” notes Suarez.

Twenty years later the reality is different. Firefighters trained to deal with a tragedy like that until the attack on the Twin Towers, had the record of the event with the largest number of deaths firefighting.

Inexperience, technical failures or divine plan. Twenty years later still unknown precisely the cause of the fire. The lieutenant Ely Peraza, then a member of the Fire Department of the UCV, remember that said the first fire started when the two electrical workers used a flashlight to illuminate the tank. He adds that exploded nine occurred because a phenomenon called boilover or conversion, ie, there was a heat transfer between the tanks.
The voices of those who demanded a thorough investigation, including President Luis Herrera Campins, went out a few months.

TACOA to 23 years / Other Vargas tragedy not forget
the day that caught them Arrecife: 160 dead, including firefighters and journalists, and more than 500 houses destroyed, let the fire

R. Escalona


Maiquetia. “That day I was reborn. The noise of the explosion was horrible, had not heard anything so when I turned to see what had happened, came the shock wave at me. I ran to the boardwalk, but just reached me. I burned my leg, left arm and back, but I was alive. I just prayed to God, “said Angel Mendoza, one of the many wounded who left the tragedy of Tacoa _the 19 December 1982_ 23 years ago, in the Electricity Generating Complex Arrecife, Vargas state.

160 were killed, 50 firefighters, journalists, 500 homes destroyed, hundreds of charred vehicles and a memory that marked the lives of many people.

After the event, the 22-year-old at the time, who was devoted to care in the spa sport boats Caracas coming down on vacation to enjoy the beaches of the central coast, joined the work of officials occurred Fire Brigade, Civil Defence and volunteers who saved their lives and began to rescue the victims and evacuate the wounded.

Mendoza recalls being at a party of drumbeat and arrived home at 4:00 am, at 6:15 am when he heard the first explosion, then the National Guard began firing a flurry of shots in the air for people to wake up. “When I went down to see what had happened, I saw a ship discharging oil and ran to check the boats caring.Effective sent people to leave and go to Playa Tacoa, where we stayed three hours. We were told that everything was under control and could go to our homes. ”

He was removing the oil spilled by the first tank when almost a quarter to noon he heard the sound of the second explosion, which killed hundreds of people.

“After the wave hit me, I went to look for the boat and help rescue people, because despite the pain had to do something to help, it was time to work, it was horrible, I could only carry 20 people because He was fed up with burned. I was transferred to Social Security, where I spent a month with painkillers and serum.The worst thing is that we were shocked and traumatized, there were people asleep screaming that it burned. The nerves took over all. My wounds healed over the years, but the memories are still fresh. ”

Unpredictable day
The December 19, 1982, three workers of La Electricidad de Caracas They performed routine tasks, unloaded fuel and 16,000 liters trasegaban a boat from Murachi banker, when the first explosion of the tank 8 through the air sent workers Luis Natera occurred, Jose Manuel Rodriguez and Alexis Alsaúl; the latter, although burned, activated the emergency alarm.

Hundreds of law enforcement officials were at the scene to fight the raging fire.

When assumed that the situation was under control, the tank exploded at noon in September, flying the bodies of firefighters who did the refreshment. As an erupting volcano spilled out fuel, while the wave hit a helicopter threw up foam.

The commander of the Aeronautical Firemen, Luis Eduardo Perez, talking to journalists Carlos Moros, El Universal, and Marianela Russa, Venezolana de Television, when the explosion occurred. It was also very close photographer Ultimas Noticias, Román Rosales and 200 meters Mirian social communicator Morillo, who was burned, but saved his life.

In 23 years it could be said that it is unknown precisely because of what happened in the first tank and believe that perhaps a heat transfer caused the second explosion. What is certain is that you never forget Tacoa