A major fire destroyed records, computers and air-conditioners at the Syndicate Bank’s regional office in Bank Square, Sector 17, on Thursday morning but was brought under control before it spread to other offices in the building. The blaze broke out on the ground floor at around 8.30 am and the fire station was informed about the incident at 9.10 am. Seven fire tenders were rushed to the spot and it took firemen an hour and a half to put out the blaze. Offices on the other floors were unaffected.
“Sweeper Kavita, peon Balwant Singh, security guard Balwinder and senior manager (IT) Anil Ghai had come to the bank in order to get it cleaned in the morning as is the usual routine. When they opened the shutters, they noticed a short circuit in the electrical panel near the rear entrance,” said a bank employee. The four reportedly tried to douse the blaze using fire-extinguishers for about 15 minutes, failing which, they called the Fire and Emergency Services.
A fireman involved in the operation said, “We had to call fire tenders from all fire stations and also from the Air Force. But by the time fire tenders from the air force station arrived, the situation was under control”.
A team from the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory reached the spot in the evening. The total loss is yet to be estimated. The bank officers were busy preparing for the visit of their chairman-cum-managing director scheduled for Friday. Police have recorded the statements of all four people present when the fire began and have not ruled out the possibility of foul play.
After the fire at the building of the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT) in Sector 17 about a month back, both the Chandigarh Police and the Fire and Emergency Services seemed to have been better prepared.
The entire block in which the bank building is located was quarantined by police through riot control vehicles, water cannons, quick reaction teams and commandos.
Sub-Fire Officer Mangal Chand said, “This fire was similar to the one which broke out in NIELIT building. We had recently experienced it and could not have taken any more chances. So we called maximum possible help. The intensity of the fire was similar to the one on June 8”.