Over four thousand shops were completely gutted and property and materials worth a few hundred crore rupees were destroyed in a devastating fire that engulfed a portion of Burrabazaar late on Friday night.
The fire that broke out at 1 am on Saturday from somewhere inside Tripal Patty — situated at the crossing of Jamunalal Bajaj Street and Brabourne Road — spread like wild fire. It burnt down the surrounding five
(blocks of the market) to ashes before engulfing the Kashiram block of the 13-storied Nandaram Market.
The fire kept on burning till reports last came in at night, spreading from one
to another in spite of all efforts by the fire brigade which pressed more than 42 fire engines into firefighting, including its sole highrise fire ladder. Fire tenders were called in from the airport and defence forces.
What fueled the fire was the huge quantity of inflammable goods like tarpaulins, sarees and other cloth materials, plastic sheets, etc stacked in the shops and godowns as the Tripal Patty and Nandaram Market are the biggest wholesale markets of these materials in the state.
While locals blamed the fire officials for failing to control the blaze, officials pointed out that getting water was a big problem in the Burrabazaar area, especially with the Mullick Ghat pumping station failing to supply water on Friday night due to lack of electricity. The problem was, however, sorted out to some extent as the day broke, said Commissioner of Kolkata Police Goutam Mohan Chakraborty. But by then the fire was out of control. However, apart from a fire fighter, no one was injured even though a few floors of the Nandaram Market are used for residential purposes. People were evacuated as soon as the fire started.
The devastating fire of Tripal Patty is hardly surprising for residents of Burrabazaar, which practically sits on a tinder box waiting to explode with huge amounts of flammable materials scattered in almost every other
. Only last Sunday, the Mechua fruit market in Burrabazaar went up in flames with dozens of fruit shops turning into ashes. In 1991 a similar devastating fire broke out in Manohar Das Katra, while in December 2002 the Ludhiana Hosiery Building was turned to ashes. In April 2003, a devastating fire broke out in the Satyanarayan Park underground AC Market and kept burning for three days.
The lanes in Burrabazaar are too narrow lanes for fire engines.
Accepting the problem, PD Nimani, secretary of the chamber of textile trade and industry in Burrabazaar, said that the market is old and the norms on fire safety have come in only recently.
But it was a 65-year-old security guard of an old building at Mullick Street who summed up the problem aptly. "Most of the tenants of our building have kept on paying the old rents at the rate of Rs 30 to 50 per month while doing business worth crores. When our landlord asked them to hike the rent so that repair works could be conducted, they simply refused and the building's condition kept deteriorating with every passing year. You see the electricity meter box here with electrical wires dangling all around. Sparks fly here quite often.
Hum to Bhagwan bharose rehte hain
Yahan aag kabhi bhi laag sakti hai
," he said.