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Monday, June 1, 2020

when a godown near Vijay Avenue complex went on fire !

A phone call early in the morning from a known person gave abrupt stop to my sleep – caller said, there is some fire in the building in front of your house and fire tenders are rushing ! .. .. .. scary wake-up call. ‘Fire’ is certainly not welcome.

Miles away, a  United flight from Newark, New Jersey, to the Bahamas was forced to make an emergency landing in Florida after a passenger's laptop battery caught fire. It is stated that the flight attendants controlled the situation quickly and calmly.    The flight continued on to the Bahamas about an hour after the emergency landing. Battery fires have become a frequent problem on flights as passengers carry more electronics when they travel.

We know heat – we know fire too – there are other words like combustion, ignition, flashpoint and more.  Something heats the wood to a very high temperature. The heat can come from lots of different things -- a match, focused light, friction, lightning, something else that is already burning...  and when the wood reaches about 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius), the heat decomposes some of the cellulose material that makes up the wood ~ and there would be ‘fire’.

Fire can be destructive ! .. when the  fire strikes, lives are suddenly turned around. Often, the hardest part is knowing where to begin and who to contact. Fire has been used by humans for cooking, heating,  in rituals, in agriculture for clearing land,  generating heat and light, for signaling, propulsion purposes, smelting, forging, incineration of waste, cremation, and as a weapon or mode of destruction. Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. Fire is hot because the conversion of the weak double bond in molecular oxygen, O2, to the stronger bonds in the combustion products carbon dioxide and water releases energy.   The flame is the visible portion of the fire.

The negative effects of fire include hazard to life and property, atmospheric pollution, and water contamination. If fire removes protective vegetation, heavy rainfall may lead to an increase in soil erosion by water. Also, when vegetation is burned, the nitrogen it contains is released into the atmosphere, unlike elements such as potassium and phosphorus which remain in the ash and are quickly recycled into the soil. This loss of nitrogen caused by a fire produces a long-term reduction in the fertility of the soil, but this fecundity can potentially be recovered as molecular nitrogen in the atmosphere is "fixed" and converted to ammonia by natural phenomena such as lightning and by leguminous plants that are "nitrogen-fixing" such as clover, peas, and green beans.
Most of you know that what is now our residential Complex – once had many small scale industries and famous auditorium Sri Parthasarathi Swami Sabha.  Some of the industries still remain, though the business is not much.  Just in front of Vijay Avenue, in fact the wall abuts B Block – there was once ‘eversilver kudam’ manufacturing. Now those places are used as printing press and godown that has photo frames, cardboards, lamination and the like.

This morning (5th Feb 2020) there was a raging fire.  Fire reportedly was noticed at around 0230 am – fire tenders rushed – there were more than 8 of them. The fire spread to the full length of the godown and those houses on the back side (inside Sunkuwar lane) had difficulty as fire flames reached there and it was engulfed with black smoke. The cause of fire could have been loose wiring / poor house keeping / storing cardboard boxes till roof level, electric short circuiting. Some of these could have been avoided.

There are lessons to be learnt and precautions to be taken :
          Please check how our premises are kept ? if kept unkempt with lot of material that can fire, it is not good for the place.
          Loose wiring / temporary electrical connections to be avoided
          Some safety precautions including fire fighting equipments need to be kept.
*More than all these – how is the access.  In the morning with the fire raging, the fire tenders and water lorries had hell lot of difficulty in gaining access.  First the road (Venkatrangam Pillai Street) itself becomes a lane due to dead vehicles, haphazhard parking, unauthorized occupation and more* ..
~*before blaming outside – there is little access to our premises inside – similar issues of vehicles that are not moved for ages, haphazhard and unauthorized parking, rubbish debris / fallen trees and more* ..
-           Is there not an immediate need in addressing this – it is time  (all stakeholders be it different residential blocks / individual houses / shops and … ) talk to each other and have some plan of action in ensuring a free and proper passage
Sure, the fire has brought down the establishment and the owner of the premises and the enterprise will take a long time to cope up with the loss  (feel bad for them)
-           This could have been disastrous if some worker had got trapped or if the roofing which is old had caved in.  it was not just a fire but a raging fire of chemicals and flammable material.

Lot is unsaid –  but it is time, the  associations, house owners, shop-owners, building owners realise the probable difficulties and engage themselves  to talk and take preventive measures. Besides preventive measures, properties can also be insured ..

The flash point of a volatile material is the lowest temperature at which its vapours ignite if given an ignition source.  The flash point is sometimes confused with the autoignition temperature, the temperature that causes spontaneous ignition. The fire point is the lowest temperature at which the vapors keep burning after the ignition source is removed. It is higher than the flash point, because at the flash point more vapor may not be produced fast enough to sustain combustion. Neither flash point nor fire point depends directly on the ignition source temperature, but ignition source temperature is far higher than either the flash or fire point.

Flash Point  is a 2007 Hong Kong action film directed by Wilson Yip, and produced by and starring Donnie Yen. Yen plays Ma Jun, a police sergeant who plants his partner Wilson (Louis Koo) as a mole in a pursuit against a triad led by three Vietnamese brothers (played by Chou, Lui and Xing).

Precautions are always necessary – proper proactive steps taken will ensure safe life.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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