A State government-owned helicopter and six Cessna aircraft were damaged in a major fire that broke out in the hangar at the old airport in Begumpet in Hyderabad at 11.20 p.m on Monday. Multiple government agencies, including Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), are probing the cause of the mishap.

Ten fire tenders from Hyderabad and five from Begumpet airport and Hakeepet Air Force station rushed to the spot. The fire-fighters had to battle for almost four hours to control the devastating blaze. The fire erupted reportedly after three explosions, resulting in huge flames. The blaze engulfed the hangar, causing the complete collapse of the shed.

The aviation turbine fuel (ATF) in the aircraft had further fuelled the fire, making it difficult for the fire-fighters to control the flames. “We are yet to ascertain the reasons behind the mishap,” a senior fire official said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy on Tuesday ordered a CID probe into the incident and also asked Chief Secretary Minnie Mathew to submit a report immediately.

Minister for Infrastructure Ghanta Srinivasa Rao visited the spot and said the loss of the Agusta Westland helicopter was estimated at Rs. 63 crore. While electric short circuit was initially announced to be the cause of the mishap, the AP Central Power Distribution Company Limited (APCPDCL) has, however, contested the claim ruling out any such possibility. The preliminary estimate of the total loss is said to be around Rs. 150 crore.