The fire that broke out at a shop-cum-warehouse in Chandni Chowk's Bhagirath Place spread to an adjacent building early Friday morning. Fire-fighters who had left the area around 3am after dousing the earlier fire had to return to put out the blaze.
Till the time of going to press, the fire officials were still on the spot and cooling operations were under way. The entire operation had taken over 24 hours and more than 50 fire-fighters were on the job.
At a given point in time, there were at least 12 fire engines in the area. In fact, there came a point when the fire threatened to engulf two diesel-operated mobile phone towers installed on a neigbouring building, but it was quickly brought under control.
Initially, building number 1810 had been on fire, which was brought under control by 3am on Friday. But fanned by rapid winter winds and fed by plastic-based flammable material, it re-ignited and spread to the adjacent 1809.
Rajiv Gupta, who has a shop at 1809, said, "Fire tenders had to be called again and they again took time in entering the area. My shop could have been saved had the fire in building 1810 been doused properly."
Additional district magistrate of central district, Bans Raj, said building 1810 had become very weak due to the fire and could collapse any time. "So we pressed a team of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to the spot," he said. Sources said that the building had developed cracks and has tilted.
A new problem arose when the staircase leading to the top floor of building 1810 came crashing down on the inflamed material, which made dousing the fire even more difficult. The fire-fighters had to then spray water on the debris to douse the flames.
Around 80 shops, with electrical goods, located in the two building were affected by the fire, said the locals. Officials said, of these, 30 were completely razed.
The area remained without electricity for almost 24 hours as the supply was cut immediately after the blaze on Thursday evening, and to prevent the fire from worsening accidentally.