The massive Bagree Market fire in Burrabazar area, the business hub of Kolkata, was brought under control after two days, the fire department said on Tuesday.
No one has been reported injured, but the damaging fire has caused huge losses to traders ahead of Durga Puja.
The “cooling down” process was on at the Bagree Market at the time of writing. As many as 15 fire tenders have been pressed into service for the job, according to Director General (DG) of West Bengal Fire & Emergency Services Jag Mohan.
“The fire has been brought under control. Our officers kept on fighting the blaze and they fought throughout the night. We are continuing our fight as the cooling process is on,” he said.
According to Jag Mohan, immense heat inside the building made things very difficult for the fire fighters.
Cracks were reportedly found on the walls of the building.
“Shopkeepers and a few residents of adjacent buildings have been evacuated. A few cracks were seen on the walls of the Bagree Market building. We are not taking any chances,” said an officer.
The massive fire broke out at inside the G+5 building at the Bagree Market around 2.30 am on Sunday, reducing to ashes at least 1,000 business establishments.
The state government has asked the police and the fire department to find out the cause of the blaze and initiate strict legal action against those found guilty.
The police have been directed to summon owners of the building.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) officials claimed on Monday electrical poles of the civic body were being used to hook wires without their consent.
The massive fire pointed out several lapses in fire safety inside the market building. The mesh of sagging electric wires in the dingy area made use of hydraulic ladders impossible.
Mayor and Fire Minister Sovan Chatterjee claimed that the fire department had visited the market more than once and asked the traders to upgrade the fire safety equipment but it fell on deaf ears.
A local resident, however, said: “If the authorities now claim that there were massive lapses in fire safety then how did the traders procure their trade licences? The state fire minister repeatedly keeps on claiming that trade licences will not be granted unless fire safety measures are in place. The authorities must answer certain questions instead of acting surprised each time such incidents occur.”
The Statesman repeatedly called up Bijay Biswas, who is now in charge of the licence department of KMC, too seek to know how the traders obtained trade licence despite not having any fire clearance certificate. However, his mobile number remained unavailable as a recorded voice said it was “temporarily out of service.”
A shopkeeper claimed: “The last time there was a fire in the market area in Burrabazar, we had asked the power supply authorities to fix the old and sagging wires that run a risk of catching fire but our complaints went unheard.”
Talking about the loose wires hanging in almost all the alleys inside the market area, Manzar Iqbal, member mayor-incouncil (MMIC), lighting and electricity, said: “The wires in the market place do not belong to the KMC and are being hooked from our poles without our consent. We held several meetings previously both with the trader body and the power supply agency concerning the matter.”