A fire gutted a major Durga Puja pandal in Ranchi on Friday morning hours before religious rituals for the goddess were to begin.
Officials said no casualty was reported at RR Sporting Club’s pandal, built at an estimated cost of Rs 30 lakh on the busy Ratu Road here.
The pandal, based on the theme of Nepal earthquake, is one of the most sought after ones in Ranchi drawing revelers from across the state, especially the northern districts, and was to be thrown open to public from Friday evening.
Witnesses said fire broke out around 9:30am and soon flames were seen leaping from the sanctum sanatorium and spreading to the walls and interiors of the pandal. Five fire tenders rushed to the spot and doused the blaze.
A priest, who was among those trapped in the pandal, fainted due to suffocation and was rescued by the civil defense team.
“Prime facie it seems to be short circuit that caused the fire,” city SP Kaushal Kishore told HT.
He said the administration has deployed quick response teams to tackle any such eventuality. “This team sprung into action in no time and ensured minimum damage to life and property at the site,” he said.
State fire officer RK Thakur said barring a few, most of the 153 pandals in the city have not taken mandatory clearances from his department, raising fears of a repeat of such incidents.
Synthetic and inflammable materials are prohibited in the making of pandals but are being used extensively, and live wires are left open and PVC conduits are seldom used, he said.
District disaster management officer Ashok Sharma, who visited the pandal with his team, found fire-fighting arrangements missing there.
Ranchi Mahanagar Durga Puja Committee president, Munchun Rai expressed concern over the incident but said they would go ahead with the puja come what may.
“This is a sorry incident but we take this as the Goddess’s will. The puja shall go on without any hindrance and break,” he said.