Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 09 December 2023 11.35 PM IST

Fire in drug warehouses; fire caused by strong bleaching powder


ALLEPPEY/THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Fires in the medicine warehouses of the Medical Services Corporation had spread fear across the state, and it is hinted that extra strong bleaching powder, bought with the aim of corruption, was the reason for the fire. It is hinted that the corporation has insisted on having a bleaching powder with a shelf life of two years instead of a bleaching powder with a shelf life of six months. It is alleged that bleaching powder was bought in bulk, just like a year's supply of medicines is bought in bulk and wasted. How much was bought has not been disclosed. Even though it is not a secret that drugs procured for a huge commission are destroyed after expiry, it has been criticized in the past also that no action is taken.

The fire in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram drug warehouses was repeated in Alappuzha yesterday. 33,305 kg of bleaching powder, worth Rs 15 lakh, was gutted in a fire at a medicine godown adjacent to Vandanam Medical College early on Saturday.

KMSCL purchased bleaching powder to distribute to hospitals in anticipation of the rainy season. Due to the possibility of danger, steps have been taken to return the bleaching powder from other warehouses to the company. The preliminary conclusion is that the bleaching powder called 'Benki Bihari', which was in the medicine warehouses in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam, was the culprit in Alappuzha as well. 'Banke Behari' and 'Parkins' bleaching powders were present in the godown. Sacks filled with packets weighing one kilogram were found to be stacked.

Bleaching powder became a fireball

Anil, a security guard on duty at the main gate of the godown, which has fire alarm systems, first saw the fire behind the building. Anil, who came running after seeing the broken windows and fireballs, tried to douse the fire by spraying water through the hose of the fire standpipe but was unsuccessful. Three units of the fire force arrived from Alappuzha under the leadership of station officer PB Venukuttan and extinguished the fire after more than one and a half hours of effort.

The concrete roof and walls were damaged. Compressors and related equipment of six air conditioners in the main warehouse were burnt. It is estimated that bleaching powder worth Rs 15 lakh was burnt. The damage to the building and equipment is estimated to be around Rs 5 lakhs. A major loss was avoided as the fire did not spread to the area where life-saving medicines worth more than half a crore were stored.

70% chlorine, high strength

  • The tendered company added excessive amounts of chlorine to prolong the sanitizing effect.
  • A typical bleaching powder contains 30% chlorine. Even when wet, it won't overheat.
  • 70% chlorine in the current bleaching powder. Fires as hot as 250 degrees Celsius even in low humidity.
  • Hazards can also occur in non-ventilated conditions as well.
  • It is concluded that the cause of the Alappuzha fire may be the chemical change in bleaching powder when the temperature rises.

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