At least 25 fishing boats turned to ashes after a massive fire at a harbour in Vishakhapatnam late last night. An Indian Navy vessel had to be brought in to bring the fire under control as multiple fire engines struggled to douse the flames.
Each of the boats cost nearly 15 lakh, putting the estimated loss in the incident in Rs 4-5 crores range.
Vishakhapatnam police commissioner Ravi Shankar said the fire started on a fishing boat late at night. “The boat was cut off and sent adrift to ensure the fire did not spread to the others. But the winds and water flow brought it back to the jetty. Soon, the other boats were burning too,” he said.
The senior police officer said diesel containers and gas cylinders on the boats added fuel to the fire and the entire jetty area was up in flames.
Fishermen suspect some criminals set the boats on fire. There is also suspicion that the fire was triggered by a party in one of the boats.
Shocking visuals from the harbour showed firefighters trying to douse the flames as fishermen stared helplessly at the fire destroying their means of livelihood.
Blasts in some of the boats, apparently caused by the fire reaching fuel tanks, led to panic in the area.
Senior police officer Ananda Reddy said the fire broke out around 11:30 pm. “Cylinders on boats are causing blasts, so we are asking people to stay away. Fire engines are working to control the fire,” he said. “The cause of the fire is yet to be confirmed. No casualties were reported. A case has been filed and investigation is underway,” he added.
Police Commissioner Ravi Shankar has said a multidisciplinary probe will be conducted to get to the bottom of the incident.
The fishing harbour belongs to the Vizag Port Trust. So the probe will involve port, fisheries and police authorities.