Fire blazes in a century-old building in Kolkata’s trade hub
The fire continued to rage throughout the night till almost midday on Tuesday.kolkata Updated: Feb 28, 2017 12:02 IST
A fire gutted a century-old three-storied building in Kolkata’s Burrabazar area – eastern India’s largest wholesale market – bringing back horrific memories of a similar fire that raged for four days in the 13-storied Nandaram Market building in the same area nine years ago.
“The fire started around 10 pm on Monday in the ground floor and soon engulfed the entire building as it mostly housed godowns stacked with inflammable articles and chemicals. There were, however, no reports of any casualties. Three firemen sustained minor injuries,” said Gour Prasad Ghosh, director of fire services.
As many as 30 fire tenders and more than 70 fire fighters were pressed into action who fought the flames throughout the night.
Bipin Ganatra – the voluntary firemen of Kolkata who has been recently conferred Padma Shri for his years of voluntary service in fighting fires – also rushed to the spot.
Sovan Chatterjee, state fire services minister who also doubles up as the city mayor, was there on the spot for several hours. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee telephoned him to take stock of the situation late in the night.
As the building had wooden staircases and was already in a dilapidated condition without any fire fighting mechanisms, a portion of it caved in making matters worse. Scarcity of water and the crowded streets also a major also posed a major problem.
“Even though the flames could be arrested after nearly 12 hours, pockets of fires were still there in some parts of the building. We are trying to douse them,” said a fireman around 10 am on Tuesday.
The adjacent buildings were evacuated and LPG cylinders of nearby shops were shifted to a safer place. Most of the major arterial roads including Mahatma Gandhi Road and Rabindra Sarani had to be closed for traffic triggering massive traffic snarls in the central business district of Kolkata.
Thick black smoke billowing out of the building engulfed the whole area spreading panic among the residents and local shopkeepers who had witnessed the Nandaram Market fire in 2008. The army had to be deployed then to douse the flames after the fire department failed to bring the situation under control.
“Most of the buildings in this area don’t have any fire fighting mechanisms. Something needs to be done,” said Chatterjee.