A cigarette butt carelessly discarded on a boat sparked the massive fire in Visakhapatnam jetty, which gutted over 30 fishing vessels, said police on Saturday.
The incident occurred on November 19 night, when Vasupalli Nani (23) was consuming alcohol with his uncle Allipilli Satyam on a boat at the harbour.
"They consumed liquor together. Later, Nani threw a non-extinguished cigarette stub onto the nylon fishing net of an adjacent boat," said Visakhapatnam Police Commissioner A Ravi Shankar at a Press Conference.
The fishing net caught fire and the flames spread to other boats, prompting the duo to flee.
Disregarding the gravity of the situation, Nani and his uncle went home to sleep.
Later, Nani returned to the jetty and realized that it was his act of throwing the stub which caused the fire and warned his uncle not to disclose it to anyone.
After five days of intense investigation, police booked Nani under IPC Sections 437, 428 and 285, altering the case from accidental fire.
According to police, footage of Nani fleeing the jetty, where the fire originated, at 10:08 pm on November 19 through the dry dock gate proved crucial to zero in on him.
Further, a witness corroborating the unique horn sound of the accused's scooter on that fateful night proved to be key, among others.
As many as 30 fishing boats were completely gutted and 18 partially damaged in the blaze.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy has announced that his government would compensate the fishermen up to 80 per cent of the losses they incurred in the fire accident here.
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