Two plastics factories were gutted in a devastating blaze that broke out in Bhopal’s Hanumanganj locality early on Monday morning. Thirty fire engines took around eight hours to douse the flames even as locals accuse the firemen of arriving an hour late.
According to the police, the fire could have spread from a blaze in a nearby garbage dump or due to short circuit. No casualties were reported in the incident. A case has been registered in the matter and nearby building evacuated.
The total losses are estimated to be around Rs 1.2 crore.
Locals told reporters that the fire broke out early on Monday around 2.15 am near a plastics bottle and basket manufacturing unit and engulfed it and a nearby plastics granule manufacturing factory in no time.
They said the fire could have been tamed before it engulfed the factories had the civic body not snapped water supply to the area. The Bhopal Municipal Corporation had stopped water supply to Hanumanganj locality four days ago citing tax dues.
Eyewitness Shanu Bhai said: “First, we saw the fire in a garbage heap near the plastic bottles and basket manufacturing factory, which eventually spread out to engulf the factories. We could not douse the fire then because there was no water in our houses…If there was water in the locality then we could have stopped the fire from spreading.”
“Initially, the locals tried to douse the fire. The Dial 100 emergency services were informed around 3.10 am (but) the first fire engine arrived around 4.15 am.”
The eyewitnesses also claim that water of the first fire engine was exhausted within a few minutes and the backup reached around 5.30 am.
“If the first fire tender had arrived in time, then the second factory could have been saved from being gutted,” another local said.
Abdul Shafiq, owner of the plastic granule manufacturing factory, told Hindustan Times that their repeated request for installation of a fire sub-station in the area to tackle any emergency had been overlooked by the authorities for long. “I have incurred around `60 lakh losses,” Shafiq said.
We were not late, says fire official
As locals accuse the BMC fire department of laxity and delay, senior officials refuted the charges as baseless.
Sajid Khan, an official of the fire department of BMC, said: “We received the information around 4.15 am and the first fire engine reached the spot at 4.20 am. The engines became empty within minutes as we were releasing about 4,000 litres of water at a pressure of about 7 kg per minute. At this speed, the water of the engine is consumed within two minutes.”