A major fire raged through an eight-storeyed heritage building in this city’s signature thoroughfare, Park Street, on Tuesday afternoon, killing six persons and injuring more than 20.
Locals said it appeared to have been sparked by a short circuit in the elevator or an LPG cylinder that exploded in the 100-year-old building. While two leapt to their death from the upper floors, four died of burns in hospitals, Commissioner of Police Gautam Mohan Chakraborty said.
“At least 17 victims are still admitted in three hospitals. Some of them are in critical conditions,” said Joint Commissioner of Police Javed Shamim. The building, Stephen Court, housed two of Kolkata’s favourite eateries — Flury’s and Peter Cat and dozens of offices and residential apartments.
The fire broke out on the fourth floor shortly after 2 p.m. and people working in the offices were trapped as the flames spread, engulfing several floors in thick smoke.
The wooden staircase of the building went up in flames, making it difficult for people to escape. “I could see people crying for help from the windows. A man jumped from the fourth floor. I rushed four victims to my nursing home,” said Sangita Saha, an employee of neighbouring Royd Nursing Home.
Forty-two fire tenders and more than 100 firefighters were deployed to bring the situation under control but at the time of going to press, the fire had not been doused completely.
Locals rushed to the spot before the fire brigade arrived. Some people climbed down with ropes provided by locals.
Fire brigade personnel had a tough time as water jets struggled to reach the top three floors. An hour after the fire broke out, three newly procured skylift machines, which could reach up to a height of 70 metres, were brought in. But their deployment was hindered by overhead wires and trees.