Delhi police say video shows fire at banquet hall, not gas station

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

A video has been viewed thousands of times on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube that claim it shows a blaze ripping through a gas station in the Indian capital Delhi. The claim is misleading; police and local media said a banquet hall behind the gas station caught fire on March 24, not the gas station itself. A spokesperson for the banquet hall also said the fire was inside the venue, not at the gas station. As of April 8, the cause of the fire was unknown, fire officials said.

"A CNG gas station pump in Rohini sector-11 in Delhi exploded and then caught fire. No information about any casualty or harm," reads a Hindi-language Facebook post from March 29.

The video -- viewed more than 4,000 times -- shows a huge cloud of smoke billowing from a building engulfed in flames.

Rohini is an area located in north Delhi, while CNG (compressed natural gas) is a cleaner alternative to gasoline that is increasingly popular with Indian motorists, Nikkei Asia reported.

Screenshot of a misleading Facebook post, taken on April 6, 2022

The same video was widely shared alongside a similar claim here, here and here on Facebook; here and here on Twitter; and here and here on YouTube.

However, the claim is misleading. 

While the footage genuinely shows a blaze in Rohini, it was not a gas station that caught fire.

Local media including Hindustan Times and DNA reported that a fire broke out in a banquet hall and its tent -- called a pandal -- near the gas station on March 24.

An NDTV video report on YouTube shows the pandal ablaze. It says nobody was in the venue during the fire and no casualties were reported.

ANI news agency reported that the cause of the blaze was not immediately known. 

Delhi police tweeted that the fire broke out at a pandal and that no casualties were reported.

AFP found three pandals near the Indraprastha gas station on Google Maps called Shakti Tent, Golden Pandal and JMD Tents.

A spokesman for Golden Pandal told AFP it was his venue that was affected by the fire.

He said the gas station was unaffected by the blaze. 

An official at the fire department told AFP on April 7 the case was still under investigation

"We think a short-circuit caused the fire. This is very common in summers in the Delhi area," he said.

The official added the fire could also have been caused by a cigarette stub but did not suspect foul play.