Chopper used to douse Malviya Nagar fire

A view from the IAF helicopter using a giant bucket filled with water from the Yamuna reservoir to douse the blaze at a godown in Malviya Nagar on Wednesday.

A view from the IAF helicopter using a giant bucket filled with water from the Yamuna reservoir to douse the blaze at a godown in Malviya Nagar on Wednesday.  

Firefighters took over 16 hours to bring the blaze in rubber godown under control

It took more than 16 hours and an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter to douse the fire that engulfed a godown in Malviya Nagar on Tuesday evening. As the site smouldered on Wednesday, the residents of the area complained of breathing problems and eye irritation due to the acrid smoke.

All the vehicles parked in the area had a coat of black soot, as did the uniforms of the fire and police personnel — only some of whom were wearing masks.

A few good Samaritans provided food, water and tea to the tired personnel, the officials said.

Godown owner arrested

Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Romil Baaniya said that the owner of the godown, Sanjay Saini, has been arrested.

The accused runs Maxwell Private Limited, which provides raw material for tyres.

The godown was filled with metal and plastic boxes containing rubber.

Officials said that around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, a truck loaded with rubber sheets, parked adjacent to the godown, caught fire.

Within minutes, the blaze spread to the godown. Over 75 fire tenders were pressed into service to battle the blaze. Ultimately, the IAF had to be called in to control the situation.

The fire was finally contained around 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

Officials said that the decision to call in the Indian Air Force was made around midnight on Tuesday and a request was forwarded to the Headquarters of Western Air Command.

A Medium Lift Helicopter driven by Wing Commander Pradeep Bhola flew to the spot and helped contain the fire. A giant bucket was used, and in three rounds, water was picked up from the Yamuna reservoir and dropped at the site. This was the first time such an operation was conducted in an urban space. The operation had high chances of collateral damage.

A fire official said that because the burning material was rubber and plastic, the fire had to be doused using chemicals and water.

They also needed to let the material completely burn before the fire could be contained.

Meanwhile, the police had alerted nearby hospitals to be ready in case of any injuries and had asked the residents near the godown to evacuate.

Buildings evacuated

“About 13 buildings, a private school and a gym were evacuated as a precautionary measure,” Mr. Baaniya said. Residents in the area said that several announcements were made to evacuate and seek shelter at the nearby school. While some took the option, others decided to stay put or go to the house of a relative.

“My mother could not breathe properly. There is a pungent chemical smell in the air. We also suffered irritation in eyes,” said 56-year-old Pawan Kumar, who lives right opposite the site in Khirki Extension.

He said that he and his family left the house to spend the night at his sister’s place in Hauz Khas. He returned on Wednesday afternoon.

Another resident, Jitender Kumar, said that he could not leave his house because of his dog. He, however, did move to the school for a few hours.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 2:19:47 PM |

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