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As a gasoline pipeline burns unchecked, flames light the woes confronting oil-rich Nigeria

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    Fire fighters try to contain flames from a burning oil pipeline in Ijeododo outskirt of Lagos, Nigeria Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. The oil pipeline belonging to Nigeria National Petroleum Cooperation exploded near Nigeria's largest city as thieves tried to siphon oil from it Monday. (AP Photo/Sunday AlambaiThe Associated Press

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    A firefighter handles a hose a they try to contain flames and a tower of smoke from a burning oil pipeline in Ijeododo on the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. The oil pipeline belonging to Nigeria National Petroleum Cooperation exploded near Nigeria's largest city as thieves tried to siphon oil from it Monday. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)The Associated Press

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    Smoke and flames billow from a burning oil pipeline in Ijeododo on the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. The oil pipeline belonging to Nigeria National Petroleum Cooperation exploded near Nigeria's largest city as thieves tried to siphon oil from it Monday. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)The Associated Press

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    Fire fighters try to contain flames from a burning oil pipeline in Ijeododo in the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. The oil pipeline belonging to Nigeria National Petroleum Cooperation exploded near Nigeria's largest city as thieves tried to siphon oil from it Monday. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)The Associated Press

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    Fire fighters try to contain flames a from a burning oil pipeline in Ijeododo in the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. The oil pipeline belonging to Nigeria National Petroleum Cooperation exploded near Nigeria's largest city as thieves tried to siphon oil from it Monday. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)The Associated Press

Thieves who wanted to steal gasoline from a pipeline running near Nigeria's megacity of Lagos have sparked a massive fire.

The fire began Monday in Ije Ododo, in a swampy mangrove forest in the western fringe of the sprawling city of Lagos. On Thursday, firefighters sprayed water around the site, trying to stop the fire from spreading. The ground turned to a foul-smelling mud, with puddles of fuel and dirt looking red.

Pipeline ruptures remain common in Nigeria, an oil-rich nation where militants and criminals routinely tap into lines to steal crude oil and refined gasoline.

While the government criticizes those stealing from the lines, it often remains the only quick way to make money in a nation where most earn the equivalent of a $1 day.