Hatibagan market, one of Kolkata’s oldest markets, went ablaze around 2:30 am on Thursday though no casualties were reported till about 7 am in the morning.
The flames, fed by a portion of the ghee market, consumed almost the whole market that consists of a dense cluster of one and two-storeyed buildings.
"The fire is substantially under control," claimed fire services minister Javed Khan at 6:30 am. Locals, however, pointed out that leaping flames could be seen in many buildings.
"It is too early to say how the fire started," said Khan. Locals indicated the first flames were seen in the fruit market.
The complex used to trade in everything from ghee to sarees, gold to cosmetics, and the combustible material in the godowns helped the fire.The police asked panic striken traders not to venture into in any parts of the complex as it can cave in any moment.
"It is a private market. Nothing in the north, the old parts of the city is planned. In such a situation, it is always difficult to contain a fire," said urban development minister Firhad Hakim.
As many as 30 fire tenders reached the spot, along with the police commissioner, and several ministers who desperately tried to battle what was Kolkata’s second fire in as many days.
On Wednesday, fire severely disrupted services at the emergency wing of SSKM hospital the state’s largest referral hospital.
Hatibagan market, is about 250 years old and is located near Shyambazar, the trading hub of north Kolkata. There are around 1200 shops in the market.
In 1985, Kolkata's famous New Market was consumed in a devastating fire.