Nearly 300 vehicles were destroyed in a major fire that broke out on Saturday, in the parking area of the Yelahanka Air Force station in Bengaluru, where the 12th edition of Aero India is underway. Huge plumes of thick black smoke could be seen in the sky near the Yelahanka air base in north Bengaluru, where about a hundred aircraft are parked for the biennial Aero India 2019 event.. Officials say the cause of the fire could be a lit cigarette that was disposed on the grass in the open field, and spread quickly, aided by strong winds. Firemen tried controlling the fire by moving unaffected vehicles away from the fire zone. At least 10 fire force and 5 fire engines were rushed to bring it under control.
The cause of the fire is still unknown and there are no reports of injury so far. A Defence Ministry statement said the parking area is located well away from the venue, on the other side of the highway. “IAF immediately launched one helicopter for aerial assessment, the helicopter assisted by providing effective directions to fight the fire. The fire was brought under control by deploying more than 12 fire fighting vehicles,” the statement said. Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, taking note of the incident, said he has instructed police and fire officials to take action. Union Minister of Statistics and former chief minister of Karnataka Sadananda Gowda asked people around the venue to stay safe.
Meanwhile, Indian Air Force PRO Anupam Banerjee stated that Aero show will continue as scheduled for the fifth day, furthering that people should not pay heed to rumours. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of fire, the Defence Ministry added. The air show was temporarily suspended once the fire spread and no planes took off from the airbase till the fire was completely doused. Today’s incident comes less than a week after two jets of the Indian Air Force’s Suryakiran Aerobatic Team crashed after a mid-air collision over the air base. One of the three pilots in the crash had died. The five-day air show started on Wednesday and will conclude tomorrow.