Coal is an important source of energy and large deposits especially in Bihar and West Bengal from where coal is regularly mined in large quantities. Raniganj-Jharia-Dhanbad is a prominent coal belt. Coal mining is a hazardous operation. Although all efforts are made to observe the mining safety rules prescribed by the Director of Mine Safety of Government of India, fire accidents do occur.

Moreover, soft coal, under extremely hot conditions as prevail inside deep mines, sometimes leads to spontaneous self-ignition. Once ignited, coal burns uncontrollably. In many cases, the gases accumulated in the mines can cause explosion. If coalmines are trapped in a burning coalmine and exit gets blocked, it becomes a major disaster resulting in the death trapped miners. In the coalfields, there are underground tracks in coal mines where fires have been burning for many years. Enormous quantities of coal are getting destroyed by these fires.

In addition to the destruction and hazard of burning, coal fire, produce considerable amount of combustion products in the form of gases and soot, all of which pollute the atmosphere.


Inflammable liquids such as oil, petrol, spirit, liquor, tar, paints, many chemicals and even ghee, pose serious fire hazard. All such fires can called “oil fires”. These starts as soon as an inflammable liquid comes in contact with a naked flame or smouldering ember or a spark or a very hot object. Oil fires can also occur in the absence of a naked flame, spark etc. this happen because many chemicals release heat due to the process of oxidation when they come into contact with air which always contains oxygen. If adequate ventilation is not maintained by circulating the air so that heat and fumes get dissipated, a stage comes when the temperature rises to cause fire in the inflammable liquid chemical. Sometimes there can be an explosion.


As the fire in a liquid medium such as oil, burns on the surface, it spreads quickly as the oil spreads or gets sprinkled on the other substances.


Fires in buildings, residential or commercial, are by far the most common occurrences among fire disasters. Once started, fires in buildings become uncontrollable due to the considerable amount of combustible and flammable material such as wood, cloth, paper, plastics, chemicals, cooking gas, kerosene oil, used or stored in the buildings. Fires in multi-storeyed building and closely located houses turn into major disasters as the fire spreads quickly and leads to considerable loss of property and even deaths, which occur due to burning or suffocation.

Electrical equipment in buildings, especially in urban houses and in multi-storeyed buildings, are serious fire hazards if not checked and maintained well. In such cases, it is not only the fire, which causes the disaster, but there is the added danger of electrocution also.