Fire Devastates Ambootia Tea Factory

LOGO-AmbootiaTea[1]Last Monday a fire was spotted at the Ambootia Tea Estate in Kurseong. Kurseong is a hill station in India’s Darjeeling region. The fire raged for ten hours, completely destroying the tea factory and its contents.

The tea factory was constructed in 1920. In 2012 an extensive modernization project was completed, ensuring the facility met new operational standards.

WTN140825_ART_Mungpoo_News[1]It was reported by the Darjeeling Times that two fire trucks reached the site to fight the blaze. (Web India 123 reported that there were four engines sent.) Unfortunately, one of the trucks was non-operational, greatly hindering the efforts of the fire service. When the fire was fully extinguished, ten hours after it was first seen, the factory was a total loss.

Reports are that the property loss equals INRs425 crore (more than $USD70.3 million). Beyond the buildings, several thousand kilos of raw tea leaf and 9,000 kg of processed tea were also destroyed.

Investigators raised the possibility of arson or a short-circuit as the cause. Rains following the fire have complicated the investigation severely.

WTN140825_ART_AmbootiaTea[1]In their reporting, the Darjeeling Times noted that on Aug.12 the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) had put into place a 60-day order at Ambootia that would not allow more than 10 people to gather, a part of the Indian Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) known as Section 144. This was in response to a dispute over 155 acres of land claimed by both Cinchona Plantation and Ambootia tea estate. Cinchona’s director had complained of threats to his workers. While the article’s author noted this fact, there was no more explicit suggestion made as to a connection with the fire.

Video of the fire is available at The Darjeeling Chronicle

Source: Darjeeling Times