30 hours later, firemen still fighting Kolkata market blaze
Fire erupted again in Kolkata’s Bagri market Monday morning more than 30 hours after it broke and a night-long operation to extinguish the blaze.
A massive fire on Sunday completely gutted more than 400 shops in Bagri Market, a six-storeyed building at Kolkata’s trading hub of Burabazar, just two months after it received clearance from the state fire services department.
Flames and black smoke were seen billowing from a part of the third floor on Monday morning even as shop owners tried to salvage some of their goods after the building had been gutted in a fire that began early Sunday morning.
“We’ve reached from ground to top floor and have succeeded in containing fire but due to presence of chemical there, it’s difficult to contain pockets of fire inside. Now 35 fire tenders and 250 firemen are here and operation is going on continuously,” news agency ANI quoted a fire department official as saying.
Cracks have appeared at several places in the building triggering apprehensions of a possible collapse.
Fire services department director general Jag Mohan said on Sunday that many of the 400 plus shops in the six-storeyed building were packed with inflammable items such as cosmetics, deodorants, chemicals, plastic packaging materials that fuelled the flames.
“The government repeatedly urged the market authorities for safety measures. If they heeded the administration, the disaster could have been avoided,” said Trinamool secretary general and education minister Partha Chatterjee, who is heading the government in the absence of chief minister Mamata Banerjee who left the country on a 12-day Europe trip on Sunday morning.
Opposition leaders criticised the government for issuing conditional fire certificates despite the market authorities not complying with the instructions. Left leader in the state Assembly Sujan Chakrabarty said that it should probed why the building was given fire clearance despite not having proper fire safety measures.
“If there is any foul play, the persons concerned should be probed and punished,” he said.
The fire brought back memories of Nandaram Market (another standalone building like Bagri Market) that caught fire in January 2008. As many as 42 fire engines were pressed to battle the blaze that continued for days and destroyed thousands of shops.