Asia's biggest arms depot at Pulgaon goes up in smoke; 16 killed

The fire started at the high security central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra, around 1 am in a shed housing ‘highly sensitive ammunition’

Pulgaon: At least 16 defence personnel, including two Army officers, were killed yesterday in a massive fire that broke out at one of Asia’s biggest ammunition depot in Pulgaon that houses the largest stockpile of weapons in the country.

up in flames: The fire at CAD Pulgaon broke out in the wee hours of yesterday. Pic/PTI
Up in flames: The fire at CAD Pulgaon broke out in the wee hours of yesterday. Pic/PTI

The fire which started at 1 am at one of the sheds that housed ‘highly sensitive ammunition’ in the high security central ammunition depot (CAD), spread over 7,000 acres, has been completely doused and the situation brought under control after an overnight operation.

“In efforts to douse the fire, two officers and 14 personnel (including an Army jawan and 13 civilian fire fighting staff) lost their lives and two officers and 15 personnel (including nine Army Jawans and six civilian firefighting staff) were injured,” Director General of Military Operations Lt Gen Ranbir Singh.

Loud explosions were heard one after the other as the raging fire lit up the night sky. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained and the Army has instituted an inquiry into the incident, Singh said.

About the depot

CAD Pulgaon is located at about 115 km from Nagpur. Stocks including bombs, grenades, shells, assorted rifles, missiles and other explosives from various factories comes here first and are then distributed.

Previous mishaps
December 8, 2015: Five injured after a fire broke out during a regular exercise in Vishakapatnam

March 26, 2010:
A major fire broke out at the Panagarh depot in West Bengal. No casualties were reported but the depot suffered huge losses

December 4, 2008:
Two army men were killed in the blaze at the Bhuj depot after a bomb exploded during routine inspection of old and outdated ammunition

August 12, 2007:
Two army men and a civilian were killed and over 40 others injured in a major blaze at the ordnance depot in south Kashmir

April 29, 2001:
A huge fire broke out in the ammunition dump at Mamoon Canton-ment near Pathankot. There were no casualties

May 2, 2000:
Three civilians died due to shrapnel and splinters in nearby villages after fire erupted at the ordnance depot in Bharatpur

Tweet talk
@narendramodi: Pained by loss of lives caused by a fire at central ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra. My thoughts are with the bereaved families.

@Dev_Fadnavis: News of fire at Central Ammunition Depot, Pulgaon is very unfortunate and disturbing. Spoke to Wardha collector & took stock of the situation. Instructed Wardha collector to provide all required help in this situation. Also asked collectors of the neighbouring districts to be alert.

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