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A massive cooling tower fire at the Chandrapur Super Thermal Power Station in India sent thick clouds of smoke into the air and created panic among local residents.
"The sight of the mammoth cooling tower emitting thick plumes of smoke stirred the residents. Terrified citizens scaled their roofs to watch the appalling scene. As nobody knew the cause of the fire, residents in the neighborhood feared it was due to an explosion," said Sachin Rajurkar, a local resident. Other residents were complaining about burning eyes and difficulty breathing.
The power plant fire brigade extinguished the fire in about an hour. The fire fuel was mostly PVC; 10% of the PVC sheets on site were burned.
Pollution was already a concern for local residents, and the burning PVC escalated concerns. Activist Bandu Dhotre said, "People are already scared of high pollution after new power generation units were built in the area surrounded by thick habitation. This accident has escalated their fears. Burning PVC material has caused high pollution and hence MPCB should take stern action against those responsible for it."
Local resident Rajurkar said, "Building the new plant so close to the city was itself a bad idea and showed flaws in the planning. Local leaders and peoples' representatives lacked the political will to stop them. Now, that the giant plant is ready, people can sense the threat posed to environment as well as their lives."