CHENNAI: Thick smoke engulfed Koyambedu and its surroundings, after acres of dry and wet vegetation inside Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) plant located at Koyambedu, caught fire on Monday. The thick bushes in and around the Sewage Treatment Plant in Koyambedu caught fire and it took more than three hours and 11 fire tenders to douse the fire.
“The dry grass caught fire and slowly engulfed the green vegetation also. There was no loss to life and property,” said Chennai Metro Water Chief Engineer operation and maintenance, S Arumugam.
Joint Director Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue service, Shahul Hameed and his team swung into action as the area was thickly populated and is surrounded by the Koyambedu moffusil bus terminus, Omnibus terminus and Koyambedu fruits and vegetable and flowers market. The fire started at around 2 pm and was doused at around 5.30pm.
The smoke that billowed out from the spot, engulfed Koyambedu and its vicinity, including the Koyambedu Metro station as commuters were seen coughing and covering their mouth. Even the parking lot in Koyambedu metro station and market was gasping for breath. According to eyewitnesses, the fire that began at 2.15 pm, was brought under control at around 5.30 pm. The smoke and fire created panic and curiosity among the bystanders, said J Kumari, one of the fruitsellers who was watching the entire operation. A Chennai Metro rail parking official said they faced hardship due to the smoke which has made breathing difficult. Many commuters were seen struggling to cope up with the smoke which had entered the station.
A 50-metre pipe connected from the outer periphery of the entire facility, ran for at least a kilometre to reach the core area of the fire. N Murugan, one of the home guards who first arrived at the scene to douse the fire, said that due to heavy winds, the fire spread easily across the dry grasslands, posing a challenge to the entire operation. He was drenched in water by the time he came out, dousing the fire using the high-pressure water hoses. Even Chennai Metro Water tankers were used to douse the fire.
Speaking to Express, S Selvakumar, one of the fire and rescue personnel, said that the temperature was high and also, the wind blew the fire across, making it difficult to bring the fire under control. A total of three sewage processing plants were all safe and intact with none of them getting damaged.
A Chennai Metro water team consisting of Executive Director Prabhu Shankar, Engineering Director Raviraj and Chief Engineer operation and maintenance Armugam, were present during the incident and were coordinating with the officials. “We have ordered an inquiry into the incident,” said Arumugam.