Fire at Panjab University administrative block, records gutted
The fire broke out on the first floor of Dewan Anand Kumar Hall, which houses the accounts department having sections that deal with salary, examinations, payments, grants, planning and budget of the university. It took more than three hours for eight fire tenders to control the blaze.Updated: May 15, 2017 12:56 IST
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
A portion of the Panjab University administrative building caught fire early Sunday morning, reducing to ashes manual records, scores of computers, furniture and other equipment kept in the accounts branch.
The fire broke out on the first floor of Dewan Anand Kumar Hall, which houses the accounts department having sections that deal with salary, examinations, payments, grants, planning and budget of the university. It took more than three hours for eight fire tenders to control the blaze.
At about 2:45am, a university security guard deployed in front of the main gate of the administrative block was alerted by the students who were coming out of the main library. The guard informed his immediate officer who further alerted the PU chief security officer. Then they informed the police and the fire brigade besides alerting vice-chancellor Prof Arun Kumar Grover and registrar Col GS Chadha (retd).
In the meantime, 10-15 security guards entered the block and tried to douse the blaze by using small fire extinguishers and a water sprinkler, yielding little result.
At 3:10am, two fire tenders reached the spot and started dousing the fire. Six more fire tenders, including a hydraulic vehicle, from all seven fire service stations of the city along with the police also rushed to the spot.
- It was noted that all the fire extinguishers installed at the vice-chancellor’s office at PU were not refilled as recommended by the fire safety office.
- The due date of refilling mentioned on the extinguishers was March 9, 2017 and it has been over two months, no fresh certificate has been issued till date.
Officials reach the spot
The varsity registrar and chief security officer had reached the spot at 3:20am, while the VC and other senior officials were there by 3:30am.
Water was thrown from three sides to douse the fire, which was brought under control at 6am.
The firemen managed to prevent the fire from spreading to other parts of the building, officials said. An employees working in the accounts department said the section had nearly 70 computers, 80% of which have been gutted.
Officials said a short circuit in the accounts branch could have resulted in the fire. They, however, have not established it as yet.
An official said electricity tripped several times on Saturday. There was an outage at 4:30pm and the staff waited till 5:30pm and then left. They must have left the appliances on, he said.
Fire officer ML Sharma said, “The fire spread inside the entire branch as it had wooden ceiling and plywood cabins. The branch had combustible material such as registers and files. I did not find an alternative source of power supply. After fire, they had to switch off the power supply but when we needed to circulate water through motor pump, they did not have a generator set.”
PU finance development officer Vikram Nayyar said, “We have a centralised server, where the transactional data is updated on a daily basis. That server is set up in the separate building. Retrieving transactional data will not be a problem but it will be tough to operationalise the department again. It will take a week’s time. The affected area is just one hall. We have soft copies of all the data that was destroyed.”
V-C Prof Arun Grover said, “It is an unfortunate incident. But we managed to contain the fire with the help of our own firefighting system and fire brigade. An inquiry will be ordered to analyse as what led to the fire and how it could have been prevented. A committee will also be formed. The finance office will be relocated and experts will be roped in to retrieve data.”
- Uncovered and lose-hanging wires
- Non-availability of generator
- Non-functional fire alarms
- No preparations to deal with such accidents
An electrician employed at the university said on the condition of anonymity that there is no possibility of a short circuit because wiring in the accounts branch was done recently.
A five-member team of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory headed by Dr Deepak Middha visited the campus. The team took samples of wires, which are suspected to have caused a short circuit. The team will visit the campus again on Monday for further analyses
Senators visit PU
Former Union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, BJP city President Sanjay Tandon and many members of the teaching, non teaching staff of the university had visited the spot.
Registrar Col GS Chadha (retd) said, “The maximum damage has been done to the grants and planning section. A survey will be done to assess the loss. Our own disaster management system was operational. The CFSL team will check at what time the fire started and how.”
First Published: May 15, 2017 00:30 IST