The National Museum of Natural History in New Delhi was one of the two museums across the country focusing on nature. The museum was opened back in 1978 and functioned under the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Indian government. A massive fire broke out at the sixth floor of the FICCI building, where the museum had been housed, and reached the second floor, turning all of the museum’s exhibits into flames. The fire began at around 1.30 am on 26 April, though the fire services reached the spot on time, the fire was so massive that it could only be controlled after several hours of efforts.
One of the country’s top museum was located in the same complex with FICCI Auditorium and FICCI Headquarters, but fire did not spread to other buildings as the firemen arrived at the site in time. It took more than four hours for the firefighters to douse the blaze. The fire had started at the sixth follow and thirty-five fire engines were called to control the damages. No injury was reported besides the five firefighters, who were immediately rushed to nearby Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar ordered an urgent fire audit of all museums across the country. He was forced to do so as the fire fighting system of the museum failed to work at the time of the incident. Prakash Javadekar also went to inspect the museum in the morning.
He said, “This is tragic, the Natural History Museum is a national treasure, the loss cannot be counted in rupees. The museum had been in existence since June 5, 1978.” He further added that the Museum was an FICCI property.
The collection in the museum included a 160 million-year-old fossil bone of a lizard-footed dinosaur that’s called a sauropod. Besides that, it also had stuffed animals made by renowned Mysore-based taxidermists Van Ingen. It also has thousands of exhibits of various plants and animals and mineral wealth in India.
New Delhi’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Rajesh Pawar, said that the museum’s fire safety equipment had not been working properly, as a result of which it made the job of firefighters difficult to bring down the blaze. Fires like this are very common in India because of lack of proper safety standards.
The fire started between 1.30 am and 2.00 am and within no time, it spread across the whole building, which housed the museum. It was just across the Nepalese embassy and at a distance of three kilometers from the Parliament house. There is no information on as to what caused the fire.
The museum officials said that they have lost everything, almost 3,000 students used to visit the museum daily. The fire was brought under control by 6 am.