Casualties could have been averted, says firefighter

Casualties could have been averted in the Pulgaon Central Ammunition Depot (CAD) fire on Tuesday had the Army officers present on the spot asked the firefighting staff to move away and secure other sheds, according to an injured member of the civilian firefighters. He was present near the shed when the blast took place and is now in hospital.

Speaking to The Hindu on condition of anonymity, the fireman said: “The admin officer Lt. Col. R.S. Pawar and the Installation Security Officer Major K. Manoj asked us to keep trying to douse the fire at the one shed. After a point of time, it was clear that the shed would explode. However, the officers did not ask us to move away. Our men could have been saved by timely orders from the officers. It was sheer luck that the fire did not spread to other sheds.”

Chandramani Lade, another member of the firefighting squad near the exploded shed, confirmed this version to a news channel.

“When we reached the location of fire, it was already out of control. So we decided to hide behind our vehicles and somehow managed to save our lives,” Mr. Lade told the channel.

He also claimed that many of his colleagues were missing. Reacting to Mr. Lade’s claims on the missing men, Wardha Collector Shailesh Nawal said: “I don’t think so. We would have received missing complaints by now. There is only a remote possibility of recovering more bodies from the depot. But nothing can be completely ruled out.”

Six bodies unidentified

According to some other sources, the fire at the shed began at around 12.15 a.m. However, the Army officers in-charge took a long time to act. Three deceased were cremated in Pulgoan on Wednesday. However, six bodies could not be cremated as they are yet to be identified because of “mutilation beyond recognition.”

“We are taking the help of forensic experts. The bodies are likely to be identified and cremated in the next two days,” said Mr. Nawal.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government has decided to pay a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs. 1 lakh each to the injured.

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