At least 30 fishing boats anchored at jetty number 1 at the Visakhapatnam fishing harbour in Andhra Pradesh were gutted after a mysterious fire on board one boat early Monday morning spread rapidly to other boats nearby. The fire was brought under control at 4 am after fire engines of the Indian Navy, Vizag Harbour, and Vizag Steel were brought in.

Police officials said the fire appears to have started after a drunken brawl between fishermen over the sale of a boat. Vizag police commissioner Dr A Ravi Shankar said a probe has been ordered. The police said the fire started on one boat, and the fishermen untied it and sent it adrift to prevent others from catching fire. However, wind and waves pushed back the boat into the other boats anchored there and the fire spread.

“The boats were loaded with a lot of fuel and LPG cylinders used for cooking. The fuel caught fire, and the LPG cylinders started exploding, so the fire spread rapidly. It is now under control. There are no casualties except for the loss of the boats,” Shankar said.

Affected fishermen protested outside the harbour, seeking support from the Andhra Pradesh government. Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy expressed shock over the fire accident and ordered an inquiry. He directed Fisheries Minister Dr S. Appala Raju to visit the accident site and asked the officials to extend necessary financial support to the fishermen who lost their boats.

Vizag South MLA Vasupalli Ganesh visited the accident site and assured the fishermen of government support. He inspected the burnt fishing boats at the harbour. He also extended full support to all the boat owners and directed the police officials to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the accident.