Beirut: A huge fire broke out at the Port of Beirut on Thursday, triggering panic among residents traumatised by last month's massive explosion there that killed and injured thousands.

It was not clear what caused the fire at the facility, which was devastated by the explosion on August 4 when nearly 3000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate detonated, triggering a shock wave that blasted windows, doors and walls kilometres away.

Firefighters battle to extinguish a huge blaze at the Port of Beirut on Thursday.Credit:AP

A column of black smoke billowed from the port at midday on Thursday, with orange flames leaping from the ground. The Lebanese Army said the fire was at a warehouse in the duty free zone at the port where oil and tyres are kept.

It added that fighting the blaze was continuing and that army helicopters were taking part in the operation.

Panicked residents — still struggling to get over last month's catastrophy — cracked open windows and called each other to warn them of the new fire.

Local TV stations said the companies that have offices near the port had asked their employees to leave the area.

Smoke rises from a huge fire that broke out at Beirut’s port on Thursday.Credit:Getty Images

Troops closed the major road that passes near the port, diverting traffic to other areas.

Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud and authorities called on people to stay away from roads leading to the port to allow fire engines to move quickly.

A video circulating on social media showed workers at the port running away in fear as soon as the fire broke out, a chilling reminder of last month’s blast that killed dozens of port employees and 10 firefighters.

Last month's explosion killed more than 190 people, injured about 6500 and damaged thousands of buildings in the Lebanese capital.

The sight of another huge fire a month later created panic among residents, although there were no immediate reports of injuries.

Police spokesman Colonel Joseph Msalam said police had no information about what was happening at the port, adding that the facility was under the control of the army.

Asked about reports that the fire was caused by burning tyres and oil, he said: "I don’t know. It could be containers. I really don’t know what is there."

It was the second fire at the port this week. On Tuesday, a small fire erupted, also creating some panic, that was quickly extinguished.


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