FIRE ENGULFS Pune’s Covishield-Maker Serum Institute

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Pune : A fire was reported on the campus of the Serum Institute of India (SII) located at Manjari in Pune on Wednesday afternoon, officials from the Pune Fire Brigade said.

A fire brigade official said that fire was reported on the fifth floor of a new building on the Manjari campus. “As per our knowledge, the building is not directly connected to Covishield manufacturing,” he said.

The official also said that at the time when the fire started, most people were evacuated. “Four people were stuck when fire intensified. Three of those four people have been rescued by our team, efforts are on to safely evacuate the fourth person,” said the officer who is supervising the rescue operation.The fire broke out has been expected to have happened between 2:30- 2:45 PM.

Prashant Ranpise, the Chief Fire Officer with Pune City Fire Brigade said: “We received calls about a fire at a unit of Serum Institute of India in Manjari. We have sent at least five fire tenders and additional water tankers to the spot. The calls were received around 2:30 pm, around the time when the fire was reported. Some of the tenders have reached the area and have started the operation. As of now, we do not have details about the nature of fire, the extent of damage or the cause. Our priority will be to bring the fire under control and avert any damages of casualties,” he said.

A total of approximately10 fire tenders have been deployed by the fire department.

“Because there is a lot of smoke emanating from the affected area, it becomes difficult to locate the source of the fire and bring it under control. We have now deployed a total 10 fire tenders, a hydraulic lift and other equipment. Our teams are also checking whether any more persons are stuck, that we don’t know of as of now,” Ranpise added.

Meanwhile, Serum Institute’s CEO Adar Poonawalla said that no major loss has been reported due to fire. In a tweet, he said, “Thank you, everyone, for your concern and prayers. So far the most important thing is that there have been no lives lost or major injuries due to the fire, despite a few floors being destroyed.”

India has approved two vaccines – Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech and Covishield from the Oxford/AstraZeneca stable being manufactured by Pune headquartered Serum Institute of India.