24-hour fire at Delhi’s Chandni Chowk ‘worst ever’ in market, say locals | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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24-hour fire at Delhi’s Chandni Chowk ‘worst ever’ in market, say locals

Jun 15, 2024 05:22 AM IST

Massive fire at Marwari Katra market in Chandni Chowk gutted 50-60 shops, impacting 120 establishments. No casualties reported. Cause of fire under investigation.

A massive fire, which engulfed the Marwari Katra market at Nai Sadak in Chandni Chowk, continued for over 24 hours on Friday, gutting 50 to 60 shops and impacting another 120 establishments. The blaze, which started around 5pm on Thursday, was brought under control by 1am on Friday. However, nearly 200 firefighters continued their operations round the clock to douse the fire that were still found in several small pockets, officials aware of the matter said.

Firefighters continue to douse the fire a day after it broke out at the Marwari Katra market, in Chandni Chowk on Friday. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
Firefighters continue to douse the fire a day after it broke out at the Marwari Katra market, in Chandni Chowk on Friday. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

Calling it the “worst-ever” fire that they have seen in Chandni Chowk in terms of the size of the blaze, locals who reside behind the market complex vacated their homes, and the shops adjacent to it were emptied as a cloud of smoke enveloped the area.

To be sure, no one was killed or injured in the fire.

FIR registered

Deputy commissioner of police (north) Manoj Meena said, “Yesterday around 5pm, a PCR call was received in Kotwali police station. Immediately police and fire teams responded.”

He added, “The fire fighting operation is still going on. The cause of fire is yet to be ascertained. A first information report (FIR) has been registered at Kotwali police station. One fireman suffered superficial burns during the ongoing firefighting operation.”

Delhi Fire Services (DFS) said that the blaze fell under the “serious” category, which is a rare occurrence in the Capital. DFS director Atul Garg visited the spot, as mandated in cases of “serious” category fires. The last “serious” fire in the city was in Narela in March.

Locals evacuate area, shift to safe spaces

Staring at the thick blanket of smoke on the streets, shopkeepers were worried about losses, which ran into crores.

“I had this shop for generations and now has been razed to the ground. We have no idea how the fire started. I was inside the shop when someone shouted fire. We immediately left and saw that the shops were already on fire,” said Naresh Kumar, 45, a resident of Chandni Chowk.

Nilesh Kumar, 30, who worked at a garments shop that was gutted, said that the shops were filled with raw materials meant to be stitched for retail, as preparations for Raksha Bandhan had started. “Everything is gone now and my employer is in shock. They have been running this shop for decades,” he added.

Rajesh Sharma, president of Nai Sadak market association, said that he was in touch with the traders, and they were compiling a list to ascertain the extent of losses incurred. “There are nearly 150 shops in the entire Katra Marwadi. About 50-60 of them have been gutted. The loss has not been ascertained yet, but it is certainly in several crores,” he said.

The Katra market, comprising two buildings, collapsed in the early hours of Friday. Shops and houses in the adjacent buildings were spared from the blaze but people vacated the premises and moved to safe places.

Sunil Kumar, 34, a shop manager, lives in one of houses behind the building and vacated it on Thursday night. “The fire did not spread to our building. I have two small children and had to leave to save my family,” he said.

Firefighters face challenges

The fire department said that the blaze was brought under control by 1am on Friday. “It’s all clothing. The firefighters took out the material, but as soon as it got exposed to air, it caught fire again,” said a fire official on condition of anonymity.

Action yet to be taken on previous fire report

Two years ago, when a massive fire engulfed Bhagirath Palace in Chandni Chowk, a report was sought by the lieutenant governor. The report was prepared by a panel constituted by Shahajahanabad Redevelopment Council. Sanjay Bhargava, president of Sarv Vyapar Mandal and part of the panel, alleged that nothing has moved on the ground.

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