More than 150 years of British architectural heritage went up in smoke on Monday in a massive fire at the deputy commissioner’s office here that caused the roof of its unsafe structure to collapse.
Assisted by wind, the flame that started from the top floor around 11am turned into a blaze quickly, destroying all administrative and revenue records stored on the first floor, as officials could go into the ground-floor record section only. The district administration had to press in firefighters from the airport as well as the army. The parking-lot grilles and wall were broken down to make way for the fire tenders, yet the fire was still on at the time of filing this report in the evening.
After three hours of firefighting operation, the DC-office roof caved in. The DC’s chamber suffered extensive damage, while there’s no sign left of the main courtroom outside. The members of the staff managed to pull out some furniture, computers and other apparatus but failed to save the 200-year-old records.
Deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat, who supervised the fire-control operation, said: “We are yet to find out the cause of this massive fire. Immediate priority was to ensure that all the members of the staff were safe and maximum-possible records were saved.” A magisterial inquiry into the incident has been ordered. Additional DC; subdivisional magistrates-1 and -2; and the district revenue officer (DRO) are on the investigation team.
The municipal corporation had long declared the building unsafe, yet the DC office had not been moved. A new District Administrative Complex is under construction and the government had preservation plans for the old building that the British colonial rulers had built in the mid-1850s.
Brave cop saves national flag
Traffic police inspector D Jatinder showed immense courage to get on top of the building during the fire to save the national flag hoisted there. He removed the flag with due respect with the help of a constable. Jatinder’s seniors as well as the district administration admired his brave act.