A major fire broke out in Vijayawada's new Autonagar area on Thursday morning, after a plastic manufacturing factory went up in flames.
Nearly 100 workers in the company were rescued due to the timely intervention of the locals, and no casualties have been reported so far.
The company was called Anjaneya plastic monitors and was reportedly owned by one Sudhakar.
Speaking to TNM, M Sudhakar said that he valued the loss of machinery and property at between Rs 4 crore and Rs 6 crore.
Visuals showed thick smoke emanating from the area, even as close to 16 fire engines were deployed to douse the fire, and four fire tenders attempted to control the smoke.
Personnel from the Andhra Pradesh State Disaster Response and Fire Services Department were present at the spot along with a few members of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
Eyewitnesses said that the fire broke out in the morning and spread rapidly.
"The fire broke out at around 10:30am and I rushed out after we heard a huge blast when the fire spread to a transformer," one local worker said.
"We had just started working when we heard the blast. The smoke slowly grew thicker and engulfed the area," Prasad, a mechanic, said.
Some locals also told media outlets that there was a delay in the fire engines reaching the spot, as media channels who were informed about the incident, reached before them.
Locals said that the situation turned worse when some oil drums in a neighbouring factory in the industrial area also caught fire.
"The flames got bigger and out of control due to the oil drums catching fire in the factory next to it," a resident said.
Water for the fire tenders was being provided by the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC), as the vehicles took turns at dousing the fire.
Vijayawada Municipal Commissioner J Nivas and District Collector B Lakshmikantham were supervising the firefighting operation.
Besides officers of the city police, a battalion of the Andhra Pradesh Special Police was also deployed at the spot.
Police blocked nearby roads and cut off access to the area, to ensure that the firefighting operation went on unhindered.
Were safety measures ignored?
Several locals alleged that the company did not follow safety measures. Even as this reporter observed, it was evident that the company had dumped several mounds of plastic scrap across the premises of the factory, which could have led to the fire escalating quickly.
Shaik Sharif, the owner of a neighbouring sofa manufacturing unit said, "They were constantly dumping plastic waste everywhere, including on the road. There were also some cans that were used to paint the plastic after it was manufactured. Those could have also led to the fire escalating quickly."
Sharif said that he suffered a loss of property roughly estimated at Rs 50 lakh and blamed it on the carelessness of the plastic unit.
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