Firefight on, buildings in same row declared out of bounds

Sector 17 fire: Probe ordered; combustible material believed to be buried under debris

By: Express News Service | Chandigrah | Published: June 10, 2014 5:51:45 am
The four-storey inferno: In Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Monday. (Sumit Malhotra) The four-storey inferno: In Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Monday. (Sumit Malhotra)

As the fire-fighters poured water on the smouldering debris of the four-storey building in Sector 17,  the authorities declared several buildings in the same row as “unsafe for human living/working” and, therefore, out of bounds for people on Monday.

The buildings, which cover SCOs 4 to 9 and 115 to 127, house a branch of the State Bank of India where treasury of the UT Administration is located, offices of  an insurance firm, Haryana Tourism, CITCO as well as some lawyers. Section 144 of the CrPC has been imposed till June 15 in this area.
The area was cordoned off, entry within a 150-metre radius of the buildings restricted, and the offices shut down.

Officials believe these buildings may have suffered damage in the fire and, therefore, they don’t want to take risk by allowing their use before fully checking them for safety. This will be possible only after removing the debris, which may take four to five days, the officials say.

What is hindering the process is a heap of debris along the wall of an adjoining building. There is a possibility of this building collapsing when the debris is removed.

The administration constituted a committee headed by the Additional Deputy Commissioner to inquire into the reasons for the collapse of the building, which housed the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology, after the fire on Sunday night.

The committee comprises Additional Commissioner Sunil Bhatia, UT Chief Engineer S K Chadha, MC Chief Engineer Mukesh Anand, Executive Engineer Inderjit Gulati, Station Fire Officer M L Sharma and DSP (Central) Ashish Kapoor.

The committee will also provide its expertise on day-to-day operations for the removal of the debris.
The fire was first noticed around 4.45 pm on Sunday. The fire kept spreading and could not be controlled till late into the night. Thereafter, the building collapsed, killing two and injuring four fire personnel.

The fire-fighting operation continued throughout the night. It is believed that combustible material is buried under the debris due to which the fire has not been completely doused and smoke is emanating. As each layer is removed, the situation will become clear.

Several reasons are being assigned for the collapse of the building, including a blast in the AC plant in the basement and explosion of LPG cylinders. The UT Police wrote to the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory for spot inspection.

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