Fire guts farm produce worth crores in Bellary

Short circuit cause of inferno at cold storage

Fire guts farm produce worth crores in Bellary

Chilli and other farm produce worth crores of rupees were gutted when the mega cold storage facility where they had been stocked caught fire, reportedly due to an electrical short circuit here in the wee hours of Sunday.

The fire was first seen at 4 am in the Sai Balaji Cold Storage godown situated in the industrial area on Bangalore Road. It spread to the second and third floors in the building which has five storeys, including the ground floor.

Fire personnel rushed to the spot and put out the fire after an operation that lasted for several hours. Farmers from the region had stored at the godown red chillies, groundnuts, jowar, coriander seeds, tamarind, wheat, pearl millets, maize and other farm produce grown by them.

A total of 10,000 bags of these items, worth nearly Rs one lakh each, were stored at the cold storage facility. The estimated loss of the chillies and pulses alone amounts to Rs two crore, said fire officer Srinivasamurthy.

Farmers had stored the farm produce when the prices had crashed in the last two years, in the hope that they would pick up in course of time. But Sunday’s tragedy, when the prices are actually looking upwards, has left the farmers crestfallen. Many of them were in tears at the spot of the incident.

Farmers from Guntur, Kurnool, Guntakal, Vidupanakallu and other places in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh were also using the services of the cold storage facility.

Due to the lack of proper ventilation in the building, the walls of the structure had to be demolished using cranes, so as to prevent the fire from spreading.  However, much of the farm produce had been gutted by then. Proper fire safety measures had not been taken while constructing the building. This made it that much more difficult for the fire personnel to douse the inferno.

The farmers and porters  could salvage only a few bags of the farm produce stored in the ground floor.

Godown owner Shivasai said he had not obtained the no objection certificate for the building from the fire department as he thought there was no possibility of a fire in a cold storage facility. No fire safety provisions have been made by the building construction contractors in any of the cold storage facilities in the industrial area here, it is said.

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