Huge stocks of chillies were on Saturday gutted in a major fire that destroyed over 500 shops at a market yard in Guntur and the loss is estimated to be around Rs 20 crore.
The fire was noticed at 07:00 am in one of the shops at Asia's biggest chilli market yard and soon spread to the neighbouring areas, police and fire officials said.
About 500 shops inside the complex, spread over 60 acres, were reduced to ashes in the blaze.
As per the preliminary estimation made by the district collector, the loss could be around Rs 20 crore, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minster Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, who is on an official visit to Delhi, told reporters.
He said a thorough inquiry would be conducted into the incident.
However, there were no casualties in the mishap as people managed to run to safety soon after the fire broke out, police said.
It is estimated that 1.50 lakh chilli bags were kept in the yard when the mishap occurred.
In the face of strong heat wave in the area with mercury level hovering around 42 degrees, the authorities had a tough time controlling the fire which spread to the nearby cold storage units and huts located in the vicinity.
Over 15 fire tenders from Guntur and neighbouring districts of Krishna and Prakasam have been pressed into service to douse the flames.
The state Director General of Fire Services Aruna Bahuguna said a team of senior officials has been rushed to Guntur to oversee fire-fighting operations.
"We hope to bring the fire under control by this evening," Bahuguna said.