Fire at Serum institute’s vaccine manufacturing unit

PUNE: A major fire broke out at the Serum Institute of India’s (SII) vaccine manufacturing plant at Manjri near Hadapsar in the city around 2.40pm on Thursday. No one was reported injured.
The blaze did not affect the institute’s Covid vaccine manufacturing facility which was safe.
The fire brigade personnel safely rescued four workers of a civil contractor from the terrace of the six-storied facility where they were stuck after the fire started from one of the third-floor rooms. The cause of the fire was being ascertained, the authorities said.
Adar Poonawalla, owner and chief executive officer of the SII, confirmed the fire incident at its vaccine manufacturing plant. He, however, clarified, “The Covid vaccine manufacturing unit remained safe and it is the Rotavirus manufacturing facility at the plant which has caught the fire.”
Rotaviruses are the most common cause of diarrhoeal disease among infants and young children.
Poonawalla said, “Luckily, the Covid vaccine manufacturing unit remained safe and out of the fire ambit. But still, very sad because the fire will disrupt the Rotavirus vaccine supply by about 30% to 40%. Nobody is hurt which is more important.”
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, who was in a meeting with Members of Parliament from the state when news about the fire reached him, immediately spoke to the PMC municipal commissioner and issued directives for all measures to bring the blaze under control and take relief and rescue measures as per the situation.
Vivek Pradhan, the factory manager, told reporters at the site, “The fire broke out at the Rotavirus lab on the third floor where a stock of BCG vaccine was stored. Some electrical and pipe fitting work was in progress and at least four workers engaged by a civil contractor were stuck on the terrace and rescued safely by the fire brigade personnel.”
A crowd of local residents and onlookers gathered around the facility as plumes of thick smoke was seen billowing out of the blaze hit third and upper floors of the building.
The Pune municipal corporation’s (PMC) Hadapsar fire station deployed seven fire-fighting tenders and two water tankers, besides, the Pune metropolitan regional development authority too pressed in another five fire-fighting tenders as an elaborate effort was on to bring the blaze under control.
Senior officials including Pune police commissioner Amitabh Gupta rushed to the site to take stock of the situation. “We will investigate the cause of fire,” Gupta told reporters and added, “No production work was being carried out on the floor where the fire started. Our priority is to put off the fire and see that no one is hurt.”
Prashant Ranpise, the PMC’s chief fire officer, told TOI, “Most of the BCG vaccine were kept in airtight glass cabin on the third floor and our firemen found it tough bring the blaze under control.”
Pune district collector Rajesh Deshmukh took an update about the fire incident from Serum institute’s executive director Suresh Jadhav. “I am told that the fire is now under control,” Deshmukh told TOI.

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