17 Hours On, Kolkata Market Fire Still Rages; Safety Norms Under Scanner

The fire, which broke out at around 2.30 am, has been so massive that black smoke engulfed the whole area. Even after 17 hours, firefighters were finding it difficult to to bring the blaze under control.

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The fire has been so massive that black smoke engulfed the whole area

Kolkata: 

Highlights

  1. The fire broke out at 2.45 am, Mayor Sovan Chatterjee said
  2. 30 fire engines were trying to douse the blaze in the congested area
  3. It couldn't be ascertained how the fire broke out

A massive fire broke out last night at a building in central Kolkata's Bagri Market area. About 30 fire engines have been trying to douse the fire in the congested area on Canning Street. There has been no injury as the fire broke out late in the night and no one was present.

The fire, which broke out at around 2.30 am, has been so massive that black smoke engulfed the whole area. Even after 17 hours, firefighters were finding it difficult to to bring the blaze under control.

"As the area is very congested, we are finding it difficult to work. We are using hydraulic ladder and gas cutters to cut through the grills of the gates and small windows to enter the building," a senior official was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.

"We have been able to control the blaze from spreading to neighbouring buildings, but it's still raging. The huge amount of inflammable materials stacked inside is not helping our efforts," Director General of West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services, Jagmohan, said.

The fire started at ground floor of the five storied building and spread rapidly due to huge stock of inflammable articles, local media reported. The building, 71 Canning Street, houses several medicine shops, jewellery and cosmetics trading outlets.

It will take 24 to 48 hours to control the blaze, he said, adding, efforts were on to bring hydraulic ladders inside the area to boost the fire fighting measures.

There were complaints of fire engines reaching late to the spot.

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There were complaints of fire engines reaching late to the spot.

Meanwhile, Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, who was overseeing firefighting efforts, said,  the incident could have been averted had building owners installed adequate fire safety measures.

Despite warnings, the market authorities did not install adequate fire safety equipment in the building, Mr Chatterjee, who also holds the Fire Services portfolio in the state government, told reporters.

"I visited the building on several occasions and held meetings with  market authorities, asking them to take steps to ensure the safety of the building. Last month, too, a meeting was held in this regard. A water tank on top of the market did not have proper pipelines to take care of eventualities," he said.

However, some traders said the multi-storey market had fire alarm systems on every floor.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, while leaving for Europe trip, told reporters at the airport, "Nobody is trapped in the building. Also, no report of any casualty or injury has reached us."

Canning Street near the Burrabazar is one of the major trading hubs of the city.

For more Kolkata news, click here

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