BHUBANESWAR: Laboratory equipment worth about `one crore were gutted and a critical insectarium was damaged after fire broke out at the Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) here on Friday afternoon.
The fire, which is believed to have started from an air-conditioner, was noticed late by the RMRC staff. A researcher spotted the fumes and alerted the management but, by then, the fire had engulfed two rooms on the first floor of the research centre.
Sources in the Fire Services Wing said, the fire started at the Entomology Lab where expensive research equipment were stationed. Soon after, the smoke entered the insectarium located right in front of the lab.
The insectarium housed various species of mosquitoes and other vectors which are used for research. The toxic smoke is believed to have snuffed out the lives of the insects and likely to hit the research work seriously.
The fire was reported at about 2.20 pm when most of the staff were away for lunch. After the researcher raised an alert, the panic-struck staff dialled 100 - the emergency number for police control room - instead of calling the fire services. A PCR van reached the premises and advised them to inform the fire-fighters. By the time, the fire services wing was intimated, it was late.
The reason behind the fire is being ascertained though electric short-circuit is believed to be the cause.
The RMRC, an arm of the Indian Council of Medical Research, is a major research lab on public health in Eastern India and is credited with important research work in the field over the last five years. It is also a designated Bio Safety Level (BSL)-2 lab for investigation into critical diseases.