Fire Brigade received a call about the flames just a few minutes after 8 pm. Though there was the entire river to get water from, accessing it was complicated and took some time. The explosions and flames made things more difficult. The lane leading from the main road to the godown was narrow.
Kolkata's mayor and police commissioner were at the spot to oversee operations. The spot where the godown was is called Armenian Ghat, from where mechanised boats ferry commuters across the river from Kolkata to Howrah.
The godown is owned by the Calcutta Port Trust which under the Union shipping ministry. Port Trust had apparently leased out the godowns. However, it is not yet clear who the godowns were leased out to. "I don't want to do politics but the centre must tell Port Trust to monitor who is using the godowns and what is kept in it," said Mayor Sovan Chatterjee.
"An FIR will be filed as per law, forensics will be conducted at the site once the fire is out and legal steps will be taken," he said, adding, "What has happened is unfortunate. But our main task now is to ensure the fire does not spread. Besides spraying water from the side of the river, foam is being used to contain it."
Initial reports suggest the diesel barrels may have been kept in the godown by ferry operators. Port Trust, which confirmed that the godown had been leased out, is yet to confirm who it was leased out to and whether the purpose was storage of inflammable material.
A key street, the Strand Road, runs alongside the riverfront. Traffic on it heading towards Howrah Bridge remained almost normal.