Chennai

Fire at pharma firm's R&D facility at Sholinganallur

Smoke billows from the research and development facility of a pharmaceutical company at Sholinganallur on Sunday.

Smoke billows from the research and development facility of a pharmaceutical company at Sholinganallur on Sunday.  

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Caused by heating equipment in one of the laboratories

A major fire at a research and development facility of a pharmaceutical company in Sholinganallur on Sunday morning, damaged computers, laboratory equipment and furniture. The fire was noticed at around 8.45 a.m. by security personnel in the building housing the new drugs discovery laboratories at Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals.

Nine fire tenders and a team of 60 personnel from the Fire and Rescue Services Department led by V. Manivannan Divisional Fire Officer (Tiruvallur) arrived around 9.15 a.m. They doused the fire, which raged for almost five hours. Fire tenders from Guindy, Tambaram, Thiruvanmiyur, Maraimalai Nagar, Siruseri and State Training College put out the fire around 1.45 p.m.

Meanwhile, several employees of Orchid arrived on the spot. Trained in fire-fighting procedures, they teamed up with the Fire and Rescue Services personnel. Wearing masks, boots and hats they broke windows, they were running around, and helped to douse the fire.

The fire was caused by heating equipment that had remained on overnight in one of the laboratories on the first floor, Mr. Manivannan said. “As the building had a lot of ducts running from the ground to the second floor, false ceilings, foam and furniture, the fire spread easily. We received the call at 9.10 a.m. by which time the fire had spread,” he said.

Not easily accessible

“The building was not easily accessible as the windows were sealed. Due to the heat and smoke we could not enter the premises. We had to break the windows, cool the interiors and then enter the facilities. The heat crossed 100 degree Celsius,” Mr. Manivannan said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Adyar) R. Sudhakar said there was more smoke than fire due to the foam and the material used in the false ceiling. “We received a call at around 9 a.m. and Additional Commissioner P. Ravi, three inspectors, sub inspectors and other police personnel went to the spot. There were no casualties,” he said.

S. Mani, president, Process Research and Corporate Social Responsibility of the company told presspersons that even as the Fire and Rescue Services Department was called in the staff of the company had taken steps to contain the fire. “We have electronic backup of the documents.”

The facility at Sholinganallur has four buildings in which normally over 400 employees work and in the building that was damaged around 100 staff were employed. As the incident happened on a Sunday there was only skeletal staff at the facility. Ambulances had also rushed to the spot and a few employees and one fire personnel received first aid.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 6:20:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/fire-at-pharma-firms-rd-facility-at-sholinganallur/article2485257.ece

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