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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Fire Near Kandahar Airport Brought Under Control

Aired February 14, 2002 - 11:49   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go now back to Kandahar. Let's get the latest from the word we had, a breaking story coming out a little while ago from Martin Savidge there was a fire engaged there near the airbase.

Let's check in with Marty and see what the latest is -- Marty.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the good news, Leon, is that that fire has been extinguished but it was a raging inferno that was taking place for some time along the western perimeter of the airbase here. It actually began because there was a security alert. It was 24 hours after the firefight of last night to the minute. Illumination flares began launching from the 81-millimeter borders here that are part of the U.S. contingent of the 101st airborne.

The parachutes carry a golden flare that illuminate the landscape. Clearly, there was some concern of movement or activity that they wanted to have a closer look at. There were three flares launched. One of the flares came down around mid runway, about 100 yards out from the runway itself. It seemed to extinguish, but suddenly, there was a flare of fire, an explosion, but then the fire just took off from there. It wasn't clear what was burning. There isn't a whole lot of grass out there to burn.

But the fire took off like blazes and spread about 300 yards across. Now there is a great deal of concern, because out in those areas are where U.S. soldiers are manning their perimeters and their fighting holes. And of course they would have been in those fighting holes because of the fact the based gone to 100 percent alert, fearing activity out there. There are fire engines that are on the base. They were attached to the airport here in case there was some accident with aircraft.

They were dispatched out beyond the perimeter and apparently went to work on the fire. That in itself is very dangerous, because outside the perimeter, there are a great many landmines that still have not been cleared, and also a load of unexploded ordinance. Just venturing out there was extremely dangerous, not to mention the fact that they were a wide open target. Now as I look out, the runway lights are still extinguished. There have been no flights coming in since this whole incident began. The airport remains on alert, and I can see in the distance the headlights of what appears to be a patrol moving into that airwaves, where the fire took place, investigating whether it was just a brushfire touched off by a flare, or perhaps something more.

For now, we just don't know -- Leon.

HARRIS: Thank you very much. Marty, keep an eye on that fire, and get back to us if you hear something.

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