Nearly 300 vehicles have been destroyed in a big fire at the parking lot of the venue of the air show in Bengaluru this afternoon. Officials say the cause of the fire could be a lit cigarette that was disposed on the grass in the open field.
Huge plumes of thick black smoke could be seen in the sky near the Yelahanka air base in north Bengaluru, where about a hundred aircraft are parked for the biennial Aero India 2019 event.
Senior police officer MN Reddi said the fire spread rapidly due to dry grass and strong winds. Hundreds of vehicles, including two-wheelers and cars, were seen parked in files in the open ground, surrounded by fire.
The fire, which started at 11:55 am, has been brought under control and no injuries have been reported.
“Fire in the open field parking lot of aero show. Nearly 20 cars burnt. Fire fighting operations by Chief Fire Officer and 10 water tenders staff under way (sic),” Mr Reddi tweeted.
A Defence Ministry statement said the parking area is located well away from the venue, on the other side of the highway.
“IAF immediately launched one helicopter for aerial assessment, the helicopter assisted by providing effective directions to fight the fire. The fire was brought under control by deploying more than 12 fire fighting vehicles,” the statement said.
A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of fire, the Defence Ministry added.
The air show was temporarily suspended once the fire spread and no planes took off from the airbase till the fire was completely doused.
Today’s incident comes less than a week after two jets of the Indian Air Force’s Suryakiran Aerobatic Team crashed after a mid-air collision over the air base. One of the three pilots in the crash had died.
The five-day air show started on Wednesday and will conclude tomorrow.