Once again panic gripped the shopkeepers of Dal Bazar in Ludhiana, when a major fire broke out at a multi-storeyed building of Vikon Knitwear shop on Friday.
Articles worth lakhs of rupees were gutted in the fire, which occurred after a short circuit. Sources said one person fainted due to the smoke inside the shop, following which he was given required medical aid.
The witnesses told HT that staff of Vikon Knitwear was present inside the shop when the smoke started emanating from second and third floors of the building. Though employees tried to douse the fire, it was out of control.
More than 10 fire tenders from all fire stations of the city were pressed in to douse the fire after receiving the information at 12:10 pm. Fire brigade teams did hard efforts to douse fire in the building, which is situated in narrow streets.
Dal Bazar Merchants Association president Suresh Dhir said, "A man fainted due to smoke, but he is fine now. Fire tenders had reached in time, adding that the police and shopkeepers also came forward to help the fire department to douse the fire."
Fire official Rajinder Sharma said, "Rooms as well as the stairs at second and third floors of the building were flooded with knitwear articles. We made space to reach their after clearing the way. The fire was brought under control till 1:40 pm, but a huge amount of articles were gutted in fire."
"No casualty was reported. Fire team did a good job, as fire tenders were not able to enter the narrow streets. While one fire tender was stationed near the building, others were stationed in the nearby streets," he said.
Puneet Jain, kin of the building owner, said, "I can't comment about the actual damage as it is yet to be ascertained."
Another shopkeeper, requesting anonymity, said, "We remain under fear always, as we are at risk due to no fire safety arrangements in building. Even the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has failed to correct the naked wires passing nearby the shops."
Second fire in past three months
It was the second major fire at Dal Bazar in the past three months. Earlier, a fire had broken out on May 15 at night. Articles worth crores were gutted in three buildings. Of the three buildings, large portions of two buildings were collapsed.
Failure of fire hydrants
The fire hydrant at Dal Bazar did not function on Friday, too, when fire broke out at Vikon Knitwear. HT through its report had highlighted that this fire hydrant was not even functioning when fire broke out at three buildings on May 15. However, the MC has failed to take required steps in this regard.
Dangling wires pose more threat
Despite repeated requests of the shopkeepers, the PSPCL has failed to correct the dangling wires, which are passing from outside the shops. Shopkeepers claimed that these wires can cause big mishaps in the market.
Lack of staff and equipment
The government has failed to recruit new staff in the fire department. The shopkeepers and policemen helped the fire department as they had shortage of staff. Even the fire department had no lifts or advanced ladders to reach on the top floor. The firemen put their lives at risk to reach there and douse fire. Also the condition of a small ladder was not good as it was tied with wires. Fire safety kits are still a distant dream for them.
Meanwhile, the MC has failed to check the violation of building bylaws at Dal Bazaar. Most the buildings don't have fire safety arrangements. Municipal town planner Kamaljeet Kaur could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
Assistant divisional fire officer Bhupinder Singh was not available for comments.