A fire broke out on the ninth floor of Nandaram Market of Burrabazar, today at around 2.30 p.m. causing a chaotic situation as personnel from fire brigade had a tough time to douse the fire amidst shouting of the shop-owners that they were failing to bring the fire under control.
In 2008 a major fire had broken out at the market, which was brought under control after about 90 hours and gutted hundreds of shops. The fire today brought back those memories. Although the hydraulic ladder could not be used owing to the mesh of wires overhead and shortage of space, the fire personnel brought the flames under control at around 6 in the evening, nearly four hours after the fire was detected.
As many as 12 fire engines were pressed into service to control the blaze. Even as Jag Mohan, director general of fire services, had to quell the impatient and angry crowds who blamed the fire brigade for “mismanagement”, the fire-fighters dragged the water hoses up to the ninth floor. Shop-owners said that although the fire was initially brought under control with the help of fire-fighting equipments installed within the building, the flames were again spotted at around 3.30 p.m., half an hour after the firefighters arrived in the spot.
“Initially, the fire started in a textile godown at the extreme end of the ninth floor. The shop-owners acted promptly and doused the flames. However, immediately after reaching the spot, the fire brigade officers cut off the electricity connection, when flames were detected again. The pipes they were using in the operation were leaking and water was gushing out from the cracks. Had the fire brigade acted promptly, the fire would not have spread,” said Ranjan Das, a businessman who owns two godowns on the fourth and sixth floors respectively.
“They have cut off the electric connection without even vacating the building. Last time when the fire broke out, the entire building was in darkness. But later on, many businessmen found the locks of their godowns and shops broken and valuable articles missing,” said another shopowner. Asking for their cooperation, Jag Mohan said, “We are trying our best to bring the fire under control. We need the cooperation of the traders in these critical moments.”
Fire and emergency services minister Sujit Bose reached the spot immediately after the fire broke out. “It is getting very difficult for the firefighters to douse the flames as the ladders cannot reach such a height. But the personnel are working very hard to bring the flames under control,” he said. He remained at the spot till the fire was brought under control.
While volunteers from disaster management group as well as personnel from Kolkata Police tried to control the chaos prevailing outside, the traffic police managed to keep the movement of vehicles on Brabourne Road almost normal. However, the stretch of road in front of the market from Armenian Street to the approach of Posta bridge was barricaded.
“We had controlled the fire initially with the help of water pipes. We thought that the fire was under control, but suddenly another spark of flames were noticed which quickly spread to the next rooms which were stacked with inflammable articles. I think this fire has been caused by a short circuit. We were extremely scared as the memories of the devastating fire in 2008 still haunt us.” said Ashok Bothra, member of the Nandaram Market association after the fire minister declared that the flames were under control.
“The fire brigade is claiming that the fire is under control. But I will have to visit the spot and see it for myself. The shop that caused the fire is a readymade tailor godown and the owner is nowhere to be seen. The entire building will be closed for now. We need to recover from the loss that occurred due to the sudden fire,” he added. No casualty has been reported so far.