The Vellalore dumpyard, extending for over 400 acres in the outskirts of Coimbatore city, witnessed one of the largest fires in recent times. The raging fire was finally contained from spreading to nearby areas using a helicopter from the Indian Air Force.
The fire, which was spotted on Saturday night, continued to rage till the early hours of Monday morning as it became bigger and bigger. After 36 hours of firefighting in an area spread over 10 acres by the state Fire and Rescue services department, the government of Tamil Nadu requested for the Indian Air Force to step in. A helicopter from the Indian Air Force station in Sulur was pressed to contain the spreading of fire in the dumpyard, around 13 kilometres away from Coimbatore city.
According to a release from the Indian Air Force station, Sulur, they dispatched a helicopter to the spot based on a request from the state government. “A Mi-17 V5 helicopter was immediately airborne to carry out a reconnaissance of the area for ascertaining the scope and type of fire fighting required,” read the statement.
The chopper carried a ‘Bambi’ bucket of 3,500 litres capacity and sprayed water over the fire in the dumpyard. Bambi buckets are specialised aerial firefighting equipment which has a release valve in the bottom of the bucket. The bucket is suspended from the chopper and the controls for opening and closing the valve rests with the crew of the chopper. “The Bambi bucket carried by the Mi-17 V5 helicopter is capable of carrying a maximum of 3500 litres of water at a time which can be replenished with water from any water body with a depth of just two metres,” the statement said.
Speaking to TNM about the fire, IAF Sulur PRO said that the chopper was in service from 8 am to 2 pm on Monday. “The chopper flew from the water source to the spot 10 times and sprayed around 19 tonnes of water. The purpose of deploying IAF chopper was to control the spreading of the fire and that has been achieved,” he said. He also added that IAF chopper was deployed since the fire engines couldn’t really control the raging fire spread over 400 acres of dumping ground.
The Coimbatore Corporation is now working to douse the smoke from the dumpyard. Speaking to TNM, a Corporation officer said that this was a regular affair in the dumpyard. “Though there is segregation of garbage at source in Coimbatore district, both the bio-degradable and non-biodegradable garbage are dumped together here. So every summer we face this issue of fire,” he said. Adding that this time around the scale of the fire was massive, the officer said that there is still a large amount of smoke coming out from the dumpyard.