Fire broke out at a four-storied shopping complex, Citi Mart, near New Market in central Kolkata on Sunday afternoon, leaving four persons, including two fire fighters, injured. Panic struck the busy shopping area when people saw smoke coming out of the building.
The building, which houses mostly garment shops, was soon engulfed in flames. Altogether 27 fire tenders and sky-ladders were used to reach the upper floors of building which was a cinema hall, ‘Light House’ in the past.
Disaster Management Minister Javed Khan, Youth Affairs Minister Arup Biswas and Mayor Sovan Chatterjee reached the spot while Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was in North Bengal, remained in touch with them.
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“We are inquiring whether there was adequate fire fighting arrangements inside the shopping complex and would take penal steps if they are found guilty,” Chatterjee said.
The fire was reported at 11.45 am and it is suspected to have been caused by a short-circuit inside a godown on ground floor, a fire brigade official said.
The minister, however, said the exact reason behind the blaze was yet to be ascertained.
Water was pumped from a nearby waterbody on Jawaharlal Nehru Road to douse the fire that, at one of time, was about to spread to the adjacent New Empire building, a fire brigade official said.
Meanwhile, there was controversy when a team of fire fighters from the Army visited the site to assist the state-run fire brigade.
Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, who visited the site, said, “Nobody had asked for their (Defence Ministry’s) help in sending a team of fire fighters. We have not sent them back but the situation was not that bad that we required the Army’s help.”
DG (Fire) Sanjay Mukherjee later termed the situation as under control.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) of the Kolkata Police was also used to coordinate the firefighting measures. Forensic experts have reached the spot.