A fire accident in the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) telephone exchange office in Mannady in the early hours of Thursday has caused disruption in services in Chennai’s Harbour and Parry’s areas. According to reports, at least 29,000 mobile lines and landlines were affected in the two areas due to the fire. The fire was brought under control after four hours of firefighting. There were no casualties.
A security guard alerted the police and the fire department around 5 am on Thursday after he spotted smoke coming out of a window in the first floor of the five-storeyed building, reports stated. Fire services personnel from the Korukkuppet station arrived at the spot immediately and as they began to extinguish the fire, two firemen fell unconscious after inhaling toxic fumes from the blaze. They were rushed to a nearby hospital and their condition is stable. Nearly 10 fire engines and around 100 firefighting personnel were deployed to extinguish the fire. The fire was finally put out by 2 pm on Thursday.
The BSNL building has two blocks in which one block has the mobile network systems and gadgets while the other block is the internet data centre, which houses the government data servers. The cables in the exchange room in the first block were completely destroyed in the blaze. Because of this, mobile phone, broadband and landline services were completely cut off in the Harbour area. Since the fire did not spread to the second block, the government data is safe.
BSNL released a statement shortly after the fire which said that the fire started at the first floor which is locked. It also mentioned that the blaze is suspected to have been caused due to a leak in the AC duct. The press release also said that while restoration process is going on swiftly, it may take another week to restore the services completely.