While wildfires are a routine annual occurrence at Vetal tekdi and Panchavati hills,Sundays incident could have resulted in a major disaster because of the blazes proximity to the ammunition stored at the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) campus. However,ARDE officials maintained that it was a natural fire and there was no threat to the ammunition at the campus.
According to Fire Brigade officials,the forest fire,which started around 1.30 pm on Sunday,was extinguished at 12.30 am on Monday with the help of six fire vehicles four of DRDO and two of the fire brigade.
S B Jillewar,fire station officer,Aundh told Newsline,We were called around 9 pm and two of our vehicles were sent to ARDE immediately. The fire was extinguished by 12.30 am on Monday. The blaze had spread perilously close to the magazines stored at the ARDE campus. Had the magazines caught fire,it would have been a huge disaster. The fire brigade and defence personnel were able to bring the fire under control just in time.
The fire is said to have started on the hill top but by late evening,its intensity had increased. Two all-time ready in-house firefighting vehicles of ARDE were rushed to the spot. Soon,firefighting vehicles of High energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL),a sister laboratory of ARDE close by,were pressed into service.
ARDE officials denied that there was any threat to the magazines. We have been dealing with ammunition and explosives for over five decades. The fire is a natural phenomenon that occurs every year around this time. As always,ARDE did everything possible to bring the fire under control, said an ARDE official.