Chopper used to douse Delhi factory blaze, fire service says wasn’t needed

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New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) A massive blaze that erupted in a rubber factory in south Delhi on Tuesday was brought under control on Wednesday after an Indian Air Force Mi17V5 helicopter was used to spray water on it. However, the Delhi Fire Service said that the fire was doused before that and the helicopter was not needed.

Delhi Police however said that the decision for aerial spraying of water was jointly taken by several stakeholders, including the Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCDs) and police among others.

The fire swept through and partially gutted a school building and a gymnasium in south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar on Tuesday evening and continued till Wednesday morning.

“We didn’t demand the helicopters which came after the stop message was received at 7 a.m.,” Delhi Fire Services Director G.C. Misra told media here.

Stop message, he explained, meant that there was no requirement of reinforcement or manpower. “It means the fire ground is closed.”

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Misra said in case of a massive fire, buildings collapse and there is smoke after the fire is extinguished due to removal of debris.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, South, Romil Baaniya said that the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), MCDs, Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) and the DCP himself were among the stakeholders who took this decision.

“In the morning, it was understood that fire is not under control. It was a call from the DDMA that we should try a helicopter bucket,” he said.

The IAF chopper carried out many sorties, spraying hundreds of litres of water to bring the blaze under control.

Later on Wednesday, factory owner, Sanjay Saini was arrested. Police said that he didn’t take the required permission from MCD and there was no safety equipment installed in the warehouse.

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Fire officials said there were no casualties reported.

Though officials were not sure of the cause of the fire, they said the flames spread quickly due to the stored rubber.

On Tuesday evening, 65 tenders, parked in the narrow lanes of the congested neighbourhood, were put in service to douse the blaze. Five tenders were used to fight the fire with foam. Strong winds on Tuesday night fanned the flames emanating from the warehouse.

A call reporting the fire near Sant Nirankari School was received around 5 p.m. at the fire office. The warehouse is owned by Maxwell Pvt Ltd who are into business of providing rubber raw material for remoulding of vehicle tyres.

Baaniya said it was found that a truck was being loaded with rubber sheets at the warehouse when the vehicle suddenly burst into flames. The fire quickly spread to the building where more rubber sheets were stored.

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Rubber compounds, stored in inflammable boxes, caught fire, leading to the fire flaring up. The officer said the fire was partially brought under control in the evening. But as it became windy during the night, flames gushed out of the building and a plume of black smoke clouded the Malviya Nagar skyline.

People living around the warehouse were evacuated as a preventive measure. Medical teams at Max Saket, Rainbow Child Specialty Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital and AIIMS were kept on alert to attend to any injured. Adequate police arrangements were deployed at the medical facilities.

Police personnel were also deployed in large numbers for assisting in the evacuation, crowd control and coordination with other agencies.

–IANS

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