A major fire erupted in a parking lot in Bokajan under East Karbi Anglong, engulfing a number of fuel tankers and a pick-up truck along the National Highway 39 near the Assam-Nagaland border on Tuesday.
While a fuel tanker and a pick-up truck burnt to ashes while two other tankers parked in the vicinity were partially burnt as firefighters rushed to the spot and battled the blaze to douse off the flames.
“The flames shot as high as 30 feet in the air and the column of black smoke lingering over the fire was visible for miles. The incident, predictably, created panic among the residents of the area as over a 100 fuel tanker bound for the state of Manipur are parked on this stretch everyday,” a local said.
Preliminary investigation conducted by the local police and Fire Service officials hints a possible fuel theft racket active in pilfering fuel from the tankers. Residents of a nearby building pointed out a shack with large, corrugated drums where the pilfered fuels are stored for sale either locally or sent to dealers in the neighbouring Nagaland.
It is to be mentioned that the fuel tankers bound for Manipur are kept in the parking lot here and are later escorted by CRPF personnel to the State due to security reasons. Taking advantage of this system, many wayward and unscrupulous elements allegedly siphon a marginal amount of fuel from the tankers in the parking lot and the entire racket goes undetected.