A major fire broke out at the organic waste management facility behind the Heera petrol pump in the capital city in the wee hours of Monday, causing an estimated loss of over Rs 50 lakh to the facility, machineries and equipment.
City sky turned black as a huge layer of smoke billowed out of the waste treatment facility.
The fire was brought under control on Monday evening.
Sources said the Corporation of the City of Panaji was informed about the fire breakout at 6.30 am. However, the fire had broken out much before 6.30 am, when the first phone call was made. And by the time firefighters reached the site the fire had already caused major damages to the facility.
A team of ten firefighters fought off the raging fire and brought it under control after the 12-hour operation, where 15 fire tenders were pressed into service.
The fire caused an estimated loss of over Rs 50 lakh: a JCB machine worth of Rs 24 lakh, automatic composting machines, roof shed and several plastic crates were engulfed by the fire.
However, the exact loss caused by the fire will be assessed later.
Sources at the CCP, which is the custodian of the facility, said the spontaneous combustion at the facility could have been prevented if the security man deployed at the site had informed the authority or the fire department. But his absence from duty allowed damages to happen.
Police registered a case in the fire incident, asking the fire department to submit a report in the incident.
Although the exact cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, the sources have not ruled out the possibility of someone throwing a lit match stick or a burning cigarette butt into the garbage.
Blaming the security man for the loss caused by the fire, CCP mayor Uday Madkaikar said, “The security man was kept at night to maintain a vigil and alert the authority in case of an emergency. But he showed negligence. We have taken police’s help to interrogate the security man to ascertain the exact cause of the fire.”
Police sources said the security person was interrogated. The security guard told the police that he had to leave the dumpsite at around 3 am to attend a medical emergency in his family.
Madkaikar maintained the fire incident will not hamper the wet waste collection, and that it will be continued to be treated as usual.
The partially treated burnt waste was transported in trucks to unknown locations to help the firefighters douse the fire.
Scientists and environment engineers of the Goa State Pollution Control Board explained that methane gas could catch fire if it comes in contact with atmospheric oxygen.
Methane is present in abundance in the food waste dumped at the site. They said the fire incident points to the outright violation of the Solid Waste Management Rules of 2016.