Major Fire in Uri II Power Project

URI: Some 12 workers were rescued on Thursday after a major fire engulfed a tunnel at a hydro power plant in Uri, police said.

"The fire at Uri hydro electric project has been brought under control and 12 workers trapped inside the project have been evacuated safely," a government spokesman said.

The power plant is run by the government-owned National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC).

The fire destroyed electrical merchandize worth crores.

Around 14 fire tenders and at least 90 fire fighters were pressed into service to douse the flames.

"We got a call around 4:15 in the morning regarding fire in a transformer following which fire tenders were rushed to the spot. As the flames spread in the 800 meter long tunnel, the fire was upgraded to the level of medium fire. Around 14 fire tenders worked hard to douse the flames. Joint Director Fire and Emergency Services R.K.Hawk who was on the spot to supervise the effort said that the lot of smoke emanating from the tunnel hampered their efforts to control the fire.

Director General Fire Services, Ghulam Ahmed Bhat said that, “the blaze has taken place inside the tunnel of the power project, where movement of equipments and scarcity of water hampered our efforts.” 

He said fire fighting operation was started only after fire-fighters obtained oxygen cylinders and masks. He added that fire-service men had to fetch water from Salamabad as there was no water available near the spot of incident.

"The apparent cause of the fire is malfunction of a transformer. However, what went wrong exactly can be said only after the fire is put out and investigations carried out," he added.

The fire broke out in one of the under-ground tunnel at 4 in the morning,

Deputy Commissioner Baramulla Farooq Ahmed Lone said, adding that no one was hurt in the fire. He said that fire tenders arrived from Baramulla and they put out it after hours of struggle.

Reports said that all the police, district and Army officials rushed to spot to assess the situation. GOC 15 Corps Commander Lieutenant General Subrata Saha personally monitored the fire fighting operation.  

Joint Director Fire Services R.K.Hawk and Assistant Director Fire Services Baramulla Jamsheed Iqbal who led the fire fighting operation said that the fire had completely engulfed the 800 meters long under –tunnel. “We started operation only after procuring oxygen cylinders and masks,” they said.

A police official said that that they are investigating the matter and trying to ascertain what caused the fire. He however said that the the apparent cause of the fire is probably the  malfunctioning of a transformer.

The 240MW Uri-II hydroelectric plant is the second run-of-the-river power project on the Jhelum River in the Uri area of Baramullah District. National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) is developing the project downstream of the existing 480MW Uri-I power plant which was commissioned in 1997.

The power plant consists of four 60MW generating units. Three of the four units were commissioned by the end of 2013 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the fourth unit in July 4, 2014. 

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