Updated: January 22, 2021 11:17:26 am
The blaze on the campus of the Serum Institute of India on Thursday saw an elaborate firefighting operation by the Fire Brigade in Pune, which included rescue of six persons, subsequent cooling operation, the distressing discovery of five charred bodies and a small residual fire that again caused some concern.
As per the sequence of events shared by the various officials from the Pune Fire Brigade, the first call about the fire was received at the control room around 2.33 pm. The officials said the fire could have started 15 to 20 minutes prior to that. “Many times, people try to douse the fire with available equipment on the premises. We do not know whether that happened here or not. The first fire tender and a tanker were dispatched from the Hadapsar fire station within a minute after receiving the case and reached location in less than 10 minutes.” an official said.
Fire brigade and police officials said they were yet to get details about available fire fighting equipment on the campus.
“A team member from the first tender saw the smoke emanating from the windows from a distance and, anticipating the intensity of the fire, alerted the control room to dispatch more fire tenders. Subsequently, a fire tender and tanker from Kondhwa fire station were also sent. Over the next 30-40 minutes, more fire tenders from Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority, Pune Cantonment Board, Chacan MIDC and Amanora Park Town also joined the firefighting effort,” said an official.
There were a total of 10 fire tenders — six from Pune fire brigade and one each from other entities, at least four additional water tankers, four Devdoot (small fire tender) vans, one hydraulic lift, and one van equipped with breathing apparatus, officials said. At least 10 fire officers and over 70 personnel were involved in the operation.
Fire Officer Prabhakar Umratkar, who was among the first reach the affected area, said, “… We observed that intense smoke and fumes were coming out from windows and also staircases. We started heavy spray of water from outside, using the ladders on tenders and a hydraulic lift. After initially controlling the intensity of the fire, especially that on the staircase and hallways, our people could reach more areas to douse the fire.”
Another fire officer said that inside the under-construction building, electric wiring, insulating material, ducts and plastic objects were in large quantity, which aggravated the fire.
Pune Chief Fire officer Prashant Ranpise said, “Because there was a lot of smoke emanating from the affected area, it initially became difficult for us to locate the possible source of the fire and bring it under control. The fire was brought under control around 4.15 pm and it was followed by an extensive cooling operation, in which water is used to reduce the increased temperature of the premises. The cooling operation ensures the fire does not start again. Most of the area on the fourth, fifth and six floors — which have huge carpet areas — were badly damaged in the fire.”
As the cooling operation was on, teams from Fire Brigade started inspecting the affected areas of the floor, which they had not reached earlier, only to make the distressing discovery of five charred bodies including that of a woman, who were construction workers on the site.
A small residual fire was reported some time around 7 pm. Fire Officer Umratkar said, “Many times, in spite of the cooling efforts, some areas continue to have fire residues. Such areas may have residual fire, for reasons such as a strong wind, among others. One such incident was reported in a corner of the building, around 7 pm. It was immediately brought under control. We have continued to deploy some fire tenders on the spot, in case any such incident takes place.”
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