At least 40 fishing boats were burnt down in a massive inferno at a harbour in Vishakhapatnam late at night on Sunday. The fire could be brought under control after an Indian Navy vessel arrived to douse the flames.
The estimated loss in the incident was around Rs 6 crores with each boat costing nearly 15 lakhs.
Vishakhapatnam police commissioner Ravi Shankar was quoted as saying that the fire started on a fishing boat late at night and soon spread to other boats. "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 entire jetty area was up in flames as the diesel containers and gas cylinders on the boats acted as accelerants, the senior police official said.
Meanwhile, the fishermen suspect that some criminals set flames to the boats. The fire might have been triggered by a party on one of the boats, officials suspect.
Visuals from the scene showed firefighters struggling to bring the flames under control as fishermen watched on helplessly. People panicked as the fire reached the fuel tanks of some of the boats causing loud explosions.
Senior police officer Ananda Reddy said that the incident took place at around 11:30 pm. He said, "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 have been were reported. A case has been filed and investigation is underway."
Police Commissioner Ravi Shankar said that a multidisciplinary investigation will be carried out to get to the bottom of the incident.