Nashik: Two persons were killed and 17 others injured on Sunday, January 1, when a massive fire was triggered after a blast in a boiler of a chemical factory in Maharashtra’s Nashik district, officials said, citing preliminary information as the blaze raged on for hours.
The state government has decided to order a high-level probe to identify the exact reason behind the fire.
The blast in the Jindal Poly Films factory, located in Mundhegaon along the Mumbai-Agra highway in Igatpuri taluka, was so powerful that it was heard in nearby villages. The fire and smoke could be seen from a distance. The incident occurred around 11.30 am, officials said.
Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde visited the accident site, located about 30 kilometre from Nashik and 130 km from Mumbai. He also met the injured persons admitted to a hospital in Nashik.
Even after nine hours, the fire is still raging on. At least 20-22 fire tenders are at the spot, a Nashik police official said at around 9 pm.
“The fire in Jindal company was huge. The reason behind it is not known yet. A high-level inquiry into the incident will be conducted. Nineteen employees were injured in the incident and two of them lost their lives,” the chief minister said.
He said the next of kin of each deceased will get Rs 5 lakh aid from the state government and the injured will get free medical treatment.
Sources said both the deceased were women.
Earlier in the day, chief minister Shinde said the Air Force Station at Deolali (in Nashik district) will make a helicopter available for the rescue operation.
Later, a helicopter and Army personnel reached the spot. A police official said the rescue was not conducted using the chopper as “the situation changed” but didn’t elaborate.
Personnel of the fire brigade and police rushed to the spot to launch a rescue operation. They were joined by the State Disaster Response Force teams.
Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said 19 persons were rescued and 17 of them were admitted to a private hospital for treatment.
A senior official said as it was the first day of the New Year, the number of workers present at the factory was less.
Officials said some workers were present on the premises of the chemical unit when the incident occurred.
Earlier in the day, divisional revenue commissioner, Radhhakrishna Game, told reporters a blast led to the fire at the chemical plant.
“Normally, 20 to 25 people work in the plant. But, as it was the first day of the New Year, the number was less on Sunday. As huge grass has grown on the premises and inflammable material is lying everywhere, our first aim is to control the fire. The exact reason behind the blaze is yet to be ascertained. It will take some time,” Game added.
The chief minister also said as it was an automatic plant, there was not much manpower present at the time of the blast.
“The government will make whatever efforts that are needed for the rescue operations, there will be no lacunae,” he said.
Union minister of state for health Bharati Pawar, who hails from Nashik, told reporters that at least 100 beds have been kept ready in various hospitals, including Nashik District Civil Hospital, SMBT Hospital, and other medical facilities, in case of a need.
Even though the exact cause behind the fire is not known, a senior official said the blaze didn’t appear to have been caused by a boiler, a senior official said.
“The three boilers out of the five at the Jindal Poly Films in Igatpuri were of waste heat recovery or running on thermic fluid. It does not use any inflammable material to prepare steam.
“The remaining two boilers are of small industrial boilers type, which means there is a minimum chance of it causing a fire inside the plant,” Dhaval Antapurkar, director at the Directorate of Steam Boilers, a Maharashtra government body, said in a statement.
The deputy director of the department will reach the spot and a review will be conducted to know the exact cause of the fire, he added.