The Pune police, a forensic team and officials from three Maharashtra government agencies on Friday started an investigation to ascertain the cause of the fire at the Serum Institute of India’s premises, reported PTI. The blaze claimed five lives.
“Our investigation started today afternoon,” Pune Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta said on Friday. “Our crime branch team, [and] a forensic team reached the spot to begin the probe.”
Gupta said that the statements of people who worked at the facility were being recorded. “Based on the outcome of the probe, further course of action will decided,” he said. The police commissioner also confirmed that the forensics team collected samples from the spot.
Meanwhile, top officials of fire departments of the Pune Municipal Corporation, Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation are also conducting an investigation.
Prashant Ranpise, Pune Municipal Corporation fire department head, said there was no sign of smoke at the spot right now. However, as a precautionary measure, a fire brigade vehicle has been deployed at the building, he said.
“Smog detection system at the SII [Serum Institute of India] was very effective,” Devendra Potphode, chief fire officer of Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority, said, according to The Indian Express. “There was sufficient water supply for the fire vehicles involved in fire fighting.”
While the incident took place in the jurisdiction of Hadapsar police station, the Pune City Police Crime Branch has also started a parallel investigation, considering the seriousness of the incident. A case of accidental death and burning incident was lodged at Hadapsar police station.
According to the Pune Fire Brigade, the first call about the fire was received around 2.33 pm on Thursday. Officials said that the fire could have started 15 to 20 minutes before that.
Ten fire and two water tenders were sent to the spot. At least 10 fire officers and over 70 personnel were involved in the operation. Most of the area on the fourth, fifth and the sixth floors were badly damaged in the incident.
Earlier on Friday, Serum Institute’s Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla had said that over Rs 1,000-crore worth of equipment and products were damaged in the fire. The company has been engaged in large-scale manufacturing of the coronavirus vaccine, Covishield, developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.
Poonawalla said that the vaccines were not damaged in the fire and reiterated his Thursday’s statement that the supply of the shots will not be affected.