A fire damaged the fishmongers' section of Kolkata's famed New Market on Monday though there were no reports of casualties.
The first flames were noticed at around 12.30 pm and more than a dozen fire tenders were rushed to the site. The entire area was covered with thick black smoke.
Fire service officials said reports that came in till 2 pm indicated nobody was trapped inside the gutted portion.
The fishmongers' section is located in a congested area and fire tenders initially found it difficult to negotiate the narrow lanes.
Some stall owners alleged the fire had spread because of a delay in the arrival of the fire tenders.
Sanjay Mukherjee, director general of the fire brigade, denied the charge. "The fire tenders moved out immediately on receiving the news of the fire. We have all the equipment. But the question arises if the market had the necessary equipment to fight the flames initially," he said.
The mayor too visited the spot. New Market is located adjacent to the headquarters of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and very close to the head office of the West Bengal fire brigade.
New Market and the nearby areas have a long history of fires.
On April 26, a fire ravaged Citi Mart, a clothes market at Lighthouse building just next to New Market. As many as 27 fire tenders and sky ladders were used from morning to dusk to control the flames.
On December 13, 1985, a part of New Market was brought down by a devastating blaze. Parts of the heritage structure were then rebuilt.
In July 20, 2011, another fire damaged part of New Market, which traces its origins to Kolkata's first municipal market that was opened to the people on January 1, 1874.
It soon became the playground of Europeans and well-off Indians living in Kolkata and elsewhere. Twenty-eight years later, it was named after Sir Stuart Hogg, former chairman of the Calcutta Corporation.
Despite the proliferation of modern shopping malls, New Market remains one of the core shopping experiences of Kolkata. From florists to garments and fish to confectioners, New Market offers a wide array of products to the citizens of Kolkata.
"There are around 4,000 stalls in the entire market," said Rajiv Singh, general secretary of the joint traders' federation of Hogg Market, Firpo's Market and Shriram Arcade.