Serum Institute of India building catches fire, five dead, vaccine facility remains unaffected
On Thursday, fire broke out on the fifth floor of an under-construction building in Pune based Serum Institute of India killing five people. Fire soon spread to the top three floors of the six-story building inside the leading vaccine manufacturer’s campus.
The people killed in fire were contractual labourers. Two of them were from Uttar Pradesh, one from Bihar and two from Pune district. Four more labourers were rescued when the fire first erupted at around 2 pm, said to be due to electrical fault. Second blaze, but a minor one, erupted at around 7 pm on building’s third floor. Both fires have been brought under control.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla, who is currently abroad, said that the fire had caused “lots of damage”. He also shared that no damage was incurred to the manufacturing unit of the Covishield vaccine. He said, “I would like to reassure all governments and the public that there would be no loss of Covishield production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies.”
He expressed his shock on the death of five labourers employed at the campus.
Lower floors of the said building have laboratory facilities for Rotavirus and BCG vaccines. The upper floors engulfed by fire were unoccupied at the time of accident.
Fire brigade said that fire increased by feeding on inflammable material that was present on the floors. A fire brigade official said, “There was a lot of air conditioning material, including insulation material and objects used for fabrication. There were objects made from PVC, acrylic, plastic, plywood, and wood.”
Rajesh Tope, Maharashtra Health Minister said that no damage has been caused to the storage facility of Covishield vaccined that is located at different location from the spot. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will visit the campus on Friday.
According to the police and fire brigade, the fire erupted between 1:45 pm and 2:15 pm. Prashant Ranprise, Pune Fire brigade’s chief fire officer said, “The fire started on the fourth floor of a building named SEZ-3 and spread to the fifth floor. In a phased manner, we deployed over a dozen fire tenders and water tankers, hydraulic lifts etc, and initially succeeded in rescuing nine persons from the building. All of them were workers employed with a contractor who was working at the building.”