BIRGUNJ, Dec 21: A massive fire erupted at Super Gas Industry in the outskirts of Birgunj on Wednesday, killing two firefighters who had reached the incident site early in the morning. Two others were severely injured in the incident.
Despite efforts from the fire brigade and security forces to control the blaze, it was extinguished only after eight hours, at around 3 pm. In order to avoid further damage, security personnel evacuated half a dozen nearby villages. A joint team of security personnel from Nepal and India as well as firefighters were deployed in the area to control the inferno.
The deceased have been identified as Yadav Adhikari of Sarlahi and Madhusudan Mishra of Tanahun, Dumre, informed Police Inspector Ganesh Regmi of Parsa.
Other two firefighters Sanjib Nepal and Arun Kumar Mahato, who sustained major burn injuries, have been airlifted to Kathmandu for further treatment after primary treatment at a local hospital. Inspector Regmi further said that a technical team from India had arrived to control the fire and find out the reason behind the inferno.
A fire engine of Birgunj Metropolis was alerted about gas leakage at the factory at around 5 in the morning. However, at that time, fire break out was not reported to the authorities. It has been speculated that a spark in the silencer of the fire engine triggered a massive explosion resulting in the fire. Two of the firefighters were charred to death on the spot while two others were severely burnt.
"I was busy looking after my cattle at around 6:30 am when I heard a man screaming. Engulfed by flames, he was running and screaming. His clothes were completely burnt and he was bleeding. The scene sent a chill down my spine," said Harendra Patel, a local of Itiyahi. According to him, a fellow villager covered the man's body with clothes before an ambulance took both of the injured firefighters to the hospital. They were taken to a local hospital and then airlifted to the capital.
The locals informed that the explosions that started at 6:30 in the morning continued till 8:20 am. However, the fire continued burning till the afternoon.
Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force personnel cordoned off the area as thousands of locals watched the inferno from a kilometer away.
The surrounding villages were emptied by the security forces. "Our little children and elderly parents spent several hours without food as we could not cook our meal since the morning," said Sandip Yadav of Maniyari. Villages like Maniyari, Jagannathpur, Patel Nagar, Itiyahi, Bhawanipur, Bahuwari, Parsauni among others were evacuated until the fire was brought under control. However, the damage caused by the fire has yet to be ascertained.
Meanwhile, the Association of LP Gas Industry has formed a five-member probe committee to investigate the incident. The committee comprising Shiva Ghimire (chairman of the association), Kush Malli, Shankar Shrestha, Krishna Bhakta Shrestha and Laxmi Maharjan has been given five days to submit its report.