A major fire was reported at the godown of online grocery store BigBasket in Bavdhan late Sunday night. At least 10 fire tenders were pressed into service and the blaze was brought under control within three hours. No casualties were reported but the facility suffered major damages, fire officials said.
A preliminary investigation by the police has revealed that the fire started at a charging station for electric bikes used by the delivery staff of the company. Many of these bikes were also gutted in the fire. The godown is located in the Bavdhan Budruk area.
Officials from the Pune Fire Brigade said they received a call about the fire at 11.30 pm and it was brought under control by 2.30 am. Additional fire tenders from the Pimpri-Chinchwad Fire Brigade and the fire department of Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority also joined the effort.
The cooling operation that involves the spraying of water to avoid any secondary fire continued till 5.30 am, officials said. There were 10 employees working on shift at the time, including some speech-impaired persons. All of them had moved to safety before the blaze intensified, officials said.
Fire Officer Shivaji Memane, who was part of the operation, said, “The premises of the BigBasket godown is spread over 25,000 square feet. The facility mostly houses racks of grocery and food items. By the time our tenders reached, the fire had intensified into a major blaze. The facility had a tin structure with both roof and walls made out of tin. A total of eight fire tenders, two additional water tankers and earthmovers to set the debris were used in the effort.” He added, “As the fire intensified, the walls of the structure collapsed. The facility had suffered major damage till the time we could bring it under control. There were two cash boxes, which contained around Rs 8 lakh cash, according to the management. Of the two boxes, we could save the one containing around Rs 6 lakh cash, but the other one was gutted.”
Senior Inspector Balkrishna Sawant of Hinjewadi police station, which has jurisdiction over the area, said, “Our preliminary probe suggests that the fire started at a charging station for electric bikes used by the delivery staff. While the final report by the electrical inspectors is awaited, the primary observations point to some technical issue in this charging station leading to sparking and subsequent fire, which further spread to other electrical appliances.”
BigBasket said in a statement on Monday, “The fire at our Pune godown has resulted in the damage of most of the assets therein. Preliminary investigations indicate that it was the outcome of a short circuit in one of the bike-charging units. Our team is currently undertaking a detailed investigation. Fortunately, the fire alarm got activated due to which all night shift employees could be assembled in a safe area. At BigBasket, our employees will always be our first priority in case of any eventuality. It is fortunate that there were no casualties and that our employees are safe. We will decide the further course of action once all investigations have been carried out and the situation has been assessed properly.”