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Fire at Kolkata’s Bagree Market, one fireman injured

The fire broke out at 2:45 am on Saturday. Twenty fire engines were sent initially to the site of the fire at Canning Street, but as the flames increased ten more fire engines were pressed into service.

india Updated: Sep 16, 2018 17:53 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Kolkata fire,Bagree market,Bagree market fire
Firefighters try to douse a fire that broke out in a multi-storied wholesale Bagree market, at Burrabazar in Kolkata, Sunday, Sept 16, 2018. (PTI)

A fireman has been injured in an ongoing firefighting operation in a six storied building with over 400 shops in it in Kolkata’s Canning Street ten hours after it started early Sunday. Thirty five fire engines have been deployed to put out the blaze.

There were no other injuries because no one was present when the fire broke out in Bagree Market, a part of Burabazar, Kolkata’s largest trading hub.

“One fire fighter has been injured,” said fire services minister and Kolkata mayor Sovan Chatterjee. He refused to be drawn into a discussion on who was responsible for inadequate fire fighting infrastructure, but claimed that the government earlier hauled up the owners of the building over inadequate fire fighting measures.

“The fire fighting arrangement in the building was insufficient. They did not take steps despite repeated warnings,” said Jag Mohan, director general, fire and emergency services.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Sunday there was no report of anybody being trapped inside the Bagree Market. “Nobody is trapped in the building. Also, no report of any casualty or injury has reached us. Steps are being taken. Fire will be controlled soon,” she said.

Fire breaks out of a window as firefighters try to extinguish at Bagree Market in Kolkata, India, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. (AP)

Even as firefighters fought to control the blaze, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said she hoped the fire would be contained soon.

“The fire started around 3 am. But there were no casualties, and none is trapped inside. The Kolkata Police commissioner informed me. Fires can take place. But the flames may be contained soon,” Banerjee said at the Kolkata airport enroute to Frankfurt and Milan. She will be out of the country till September 28.

But on the ground, there was no certainty when the fire could be controlled.

“The fire fighters are doing their best but they are having difficulty because a lot of materials are stored inside the building,” said Chatterjee.

All floors of the building were in flames but the cause of the fire is not known. Locals alleged that the fire engines were late to reach the site which is extremely congested.

Till 8:30 am fire fighters could enter only till the first floor.

The fire started at ground floor and spread quickly due to huge stock of inflammable articles like perfumes, toiletries. Locals say there are well over 400 shops in the building out of which, about 175 shops deal is pharmaceutical products. There are also jewellery and cosmetics shops in the building.

Firefighters try to douse a fire that broke out in a multi-storied wholesale Bagree market, at Burrabazar in Kolkata, Sunday, Sept 16, 2018. (PTI)

An occupant of a building opposite the one which caught fire claimed that deodorant cans bursting like crackers soon after the fire started. “Cans flew to the third and fourth floors on the other side of the road,” he said.

Firemen tried to use hydraulic ladders to fight the blaze, but a dense network of power and TV cables dangling overhead made their deployment impossible.

“All floors of the building are full of highly inflammable articles. The ladder was of not any use due to the mesh of cables. We are directing jets from the adjacent building. We are now trying to enter the building,” said a fire fighter.

“You can see the situation here. It is extremely congested and people store people even on the pavements impeding movement. The network of overhead cables also prevented the ladders from the used properly,” said mayor Chatterjee.

Firefighters try to douse a fire that broke out in a multi-storied wholesale Bagree market, at Burrabazar in Kolkata, Sunday, Sept 16, 2018. (PTI)

Twenty fire engines were sent initially to the site of the fire at Canning Street, but as the flames increased more fire engines were pressed into service.

“Till 4 am, there was no supply of water. That was a crucial time window when the fire spread,” alleged a representative of the market association.

Police have closed the area for vehicular traffic.

Burabazar has witnessed major fires earlier. In April 2003, a devastating fire broke out in the Satyanarayan Park underground AC Market in the area that raged for three days.

In January 2008, Nandaram Market, another standalone building like Bagree Market, caught fire. As many as 42 fire engines were pressed to battle the blaze that continued for days and destroyed thousands of shops.

First Published: Sep 16, 2018 07:30 IST