All 377 unauthorised shops (khokhas) were gutted in a major fire that engulfed Janta Rehri Market in Phase III-B-I on Friday morning.
An estimated loss of Rs 10-15 crore was assessed in the complete loss of readymade garments, clothing, woodwork, general merchandise, stationery, grocery, shoes, gift items, confectionary, bags, electrician, eating joints and other commercial establishments running in SAS Nagar.
While no loss of life was reported, some shopkeepers sustained burn injuries in a bid to save their valuables from the blaze.
With no specific reason yet ascertained, most of the affected shopkeepers apprehended a mischief by any of those not covered in the public notice issued by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) for allotment of concrete booths on Thursday.
The fire broke out at around 5 am but the Fire Brigade received first call at 5.48 am and till the first fire tender reached the spot, the whole of market was under raging blaze.
To avert any possible loss to the lives, the houses and religious places in the vicinity were immediately evacuated.
At least 9 fire tenders and 4 water vogers with 20,000 litres water capacity each from SAS Nagar, Chandigarh, Air Force Station in Dappar near Lalru, Dera Bassi, Ranbaxy Laboratories in Taunsa near Rupnagar and Thermal Plant in Rupnagar were pressed into service. After getting refilled repeatedly, the fire fighters worked continuously till 2 pm to douse the flames. However, the local fire tenders were still on work till 5 pm.
No sooner the shopkeepers started coming to know about the incident, they, along with their families started converging on the market and till 6 am, it was a hue and cry with great rush of shopkeepers and onlookers obstructing the relief and rescue operations.
The raging fire, which was already spreading fast by catching combustible material, became more furious when several LPG cylinders in the eating joints burst and swung into the air. Loud blast-like voices further panicked the residents and the fire fighters as well.