BIRATNAGAR: Flights to and from Biratnagar airport were disrupted for over an hour today after a fire swept through a grassy field near the runway.
The fire, which started at around 3:00pm, quickly spread through the sere vegetation, and it took about an hour to contain it, as fire engines from Biratnagar municipality and Itahari had to be called in because airport’s own fire machine was not working. By that time the blaze had spread over two bigha of land (around 14,000 square metres), which was covered with tall dry grass. According to SP Bishworaj Pokharel, the fire could have been controlled within 10 minutes had the airport had its own fire engine working. The fire engine at the airport went kaput a few days ago. “A small grass fire could have been sparked by a cigarette butt,” he said.
According to airport sources, a Yeti Airlines plane returned to Kathmandu and a Buddha Air plane was diverted. Flights ready to take off from Biratnagar were halted for about two hours.