Fire at hosiery unit in Ludhiana rages for 10 hours, no casualties
Damage worth crores: 15 fire tenders deputed to douse flames; no casualty reported as hosiery unit was shut when fire broke out at 5am; nearby house evacuated as building was in danger of collapsing
A major fire broke out at a multistoried hosiery unit at Maharaja Ranjit Singh park near Shingar Cinema in the wee hours of Tuesday. The flames raged for 10 hours before they were successfully doused by firefighters, who also evacuated a house nearby. Residents started streaming out of their houses and watched aghast as the whole building was gutted and property worth crores perished in the fire.
Smoke and flames from the building could be spotted from far away. However, according to information, no casualty was reported. A part of the building also collapsed while firefighters were dousing the flames.
The hosiery unit, Sleek Line, was shut when the fire broke out early in the morning. Shinderpal, who is a tube well operator with the municipal corporation, said he lived in the house opposite the unit. He added that when he came back at around 5am, he saw smoke emanating from the building.
He further said, “The security guard was not present at his usual spot. My family members and I raised an alarm, following which the fire brigade reached the spot. A major tragedy was averted as there was no blast in the boiler and no labourers were working in the unit.”
Fire safety officer, KL Kakkar said soon after receiving the alert, 15 fire tenders rushed to the spot. However, the blaze was so strong that it took around 10 hours to douse the flames; the department also deputed one fire tender as a precaution if the fire erupted again.
The factory owner’s brother, Amarjit Singh, said the security guard was asleep and area residents raised an alarm when they got to know of the incident early in the morning.
Fire wing incompetent: Owner, ex-councillor
The factory owner, Gurnam Singh, and the former area councillor, Inder Aggarwal, alleged that the fire department was incompetent for dealing with major fire incidents.
Gurnam claimed that the firefighters did not even have water for dousing the flames due to which they had to wait for half an hour after they reached the spot. The loss could have been restricted if the fire department took immediate steps, seeing that they reached the spot on time.
He added that the firefighters never drove the fire tender inside the street. The fire tender was stopped outside the street and pipes were installed due to which there was no pressure and they were unable to douse the flames on the top floor. The fire tenders drove inside after they forced the department officials.
Aggarwal said, “The fire safety department is ill-equipped and needs to be updated. Fire fighters should be provided advanced gadgets and smaller fire tenders so that they can get to the inner areas of the old city without any difficulty. Also, PSPCL (Punjab State Power Corporation Limited) and the MC needs to clear the dangling wires in residential areas.”
Industrial activity rife in town planning areas
The authorities have failed to stop industrial activity in areas that fall under the town planning (TP) scheme. This has endangered residents living around these units. Maharaja Ranjit Singh Park also falls under the TP scheme.
Sources in the MC said TP schemes were only for residential purposes and industrial activity could not be conducted in those areas. However, over time, industrial units, mainly that of hosiery, have come up with the authorities turning a blind eye towards the situation.
The matter was also raised in different parts of the city, but the authorities have failed to take concrete steps. On Tuesday, sub-divisional magistrate (East) Amarjit Bains, who reached the spot, asked the authorities to vacate nearby buildings as the hosiery unit that caught fire was badly damaged and there was a fear that it might collapse.
Residents demanded that the industrial units should be removed out of the TP scheme/residential areas. Despite attempts, MC commissioner Jaskiran Singh could not be reached for comment.