Major fire at Bengal's army depot

20 villages evacuated

Major fire at Bengal's army depot

A huge quantity of small arms and ammunition was  destroyed in a fire which broke out at a depot of Panagarh  Indian Army Base in West Bengal on Friday. PTI

At least eight fire tenders were rushed to the depot to control the blaze, which broke out shortly after midnight, gutting a store house containing large number of small arms and ammunition. The fire first erupted at shed number 16 of the depot but soon engulfed a huge area. Leaping flames accompanied by huge explosions sent the terrified villagers running for cover.

Amid utter confusion and chaos leading to rumours of a subversive attack in the Army depot, people from about 20 villages in the vicinity were immediately shifted to Panagarh railway station.

While there have been no reports of any casualty in the fire, one of the fire tenders met with an accident while reaching the spot. Two people, including a fire brigade personnel, were injured in the mishap.

Panagarh in Burdwan district  is one of the eight such army depots in India. It  is one of the largest depots and contained about 200 tonnes of ammunition. Authorities say they are yet to ascertain whether all the ammunition stored in the camp had caught fire. However, shed number 16 was completely razed to the ground.

An Army team, led by Colonel A D Shetty, joined the firefighting work as soon as the blaze broke out. Soon a police team from Kaksha police station also arrived on the spot and the security personnel, together with fire tenders, brought the blaze under control, Defence Ministry spokesperson Wing Commander Mahesh Upasani said.

Meanwhile, the entire area has been cordoned off. A fact-finding team, led by Major General Choudhury, is scheduled to arrive from Kolkata to investigate the cause of the fire and the extent of damage.

“Our crisis management team led by the ammunition depot Chief Executive Officer, Colonel A D Shetty, fought throughout the night to douse the fire. However, shed number 16 was gutted. By 4 am the blaze was controlled,” Upasani said.

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