Black smoke continues to billow from polluted Bellandur lake; fire doused by 5,000 army men, firefighters

Bengaluru: Black smoke continued to billow from the Bellandur lake on Saturday, hours after a huge fire close to a nearby Army firing range was doused in a massive operation involving more than 5,000 army men and firefighters.

"Major fire that was there yesterday has been doused, but there is still smoke emerging in some small pockets," a senior fire department official said.

He said they were now trying to ensure that the embers from which the smoke emanated do not reignite due to the wind.

Firefighters douse the fire in Bellandur lake in Bengaluru on Saturday. PTI

Firefighters douse the fire in Bellandur lake in Bengaluru on Saturday. PTI

Water from the lake was used to put off the fire, the cause of which would be known after investigations, officials said.

The blaze started on Friday in the highly-polluted and biggest water body of the city, giving anxious moments to hundreds of residents living nearby before it was doused last night.

It had also spread towards the nearby Iblur firing range of the Army, the officials said.

The Army last night said the fire, which had spread to the perimeter of its facility, had been doused due to the untiring efforts of more than 5,000 of its personnel and firefighting equipment of the Army Service Corps (ASC) Centre and College.

Lieutenant General Vipin Gupta, commandant ASC Centre and College, said today that things were under control.

As voices were emerging that the fire may have started due to a methane burst as a result of the accumulation of chemicals and pollutants in the lake, authorities also suspect the involvement of local grass harvesters in starting it.

Fire department officials said the reason behind the fire has not yet been determined and their priority was to put off the fire completely. "Later, an investigation will be done to know the cause of the fire," a senior official said.

Speaking to reporters after visiting the site this morning, Gupta said: "The area that is close to our camp is absolutely under control, there is nothing. The area which is close to the lake there is still a lot of smoke, but it is under control.

"We have a lot of fire tenders there and we are ready for any eventuality," he said.

Lieutenant general Gupta said this was the first time the blaze had spread to their camp. "It had never interfered with our activities, but now that it has come very close to us we will definitely take up the case with civil authorities," he said.

Asked if the Army will take up the lake's cleaning, he said they were always ready to help the civil administration.

But as far as cleaning was concerned "it is a very technical and professional job" for which people were available on the civil side, he added.

Spread over 1,000 acres near the infotech hub, the lake is highly contaminated as it receives 60 percent of the sewage generated in the city. It is in a bad shape despite the National Green Tribunal pulling up the government and its various agencies for failing to prevent pollution and not doing enough to restore the lake.

The Bellandur lake had caught fire in May 2015 and August 2016 also.

In 2015, the lake had turned into a frothy, foam-filled water body due to the high concentration of pollutants in the waters. Foam from the lake spilling onto nearby roads and surrounding areas had become a common sight every time the city received heavy rainfall.

The nearby Varthur lake was also in the focus when it caught fire in May 2017.


Updated Date: Jan 20, 2018 19:58 PM

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