Four months after the Bagri market incident, a major fire broke out at a five-storey building housing several commercial and residential units, in Gariahat early Sunday. While there were no reports of loss of life, several shops and residential units were gutted, a fire department official said.
The fire was first spotted around 1 am on Sunday and it took 19 fire engines around 10 hours to bring it under control.
All families have been evacuated from the building and no one was injured in the fire, the official said, adding that some people had to be taken to hospital after they complained of breathing problems. They were later discharged, he added.
Striking similarities to Bagri market fire
The Gariahat fire incident in Kolkata not only exposed inadequate monitoring by government agencies, but also the fact that few lessons were learnt from the Bagri Market fire. Apart from there being no fire fighting system in place, inflammable materials were stocked in the shops, while illegal hoardings and congestion posed as obstacles for the firefighters.
“It was an uphill task for the fire fighters since it is a heavily populated area and they had to cut window grills and shutters of shops to enter the building. Moreover, no fire fighting system was in place in the building,” a fire department official said.
“The cause of fire is yet to be ascertained. Nineteen fire engines were pressed into action. We will investigate the matter,” said Sujit Bose, fire minister.
He along with officials of the state fire department visited the spot.
“There were a lot of hawkers around the building who stocked plastic sheets in their shops. This is dangerous. There is a need to have wheels on hawking carts, so that they can be moved in case of emergency. I will talk to all those concerned and bring in a law to enforce this,” said Mayor Firhad Hakim.
Around a dozen shops were gutted, apart from hawking units. The exact loss is yet to be ascertained, an official said.
Till last reports came in, the fire was controlled and as fire fighters were thoroughly checking the building for any remaining spots from where fire can spark. According to a PTI report, a fire department official said a blast in a transformer could have started the fire.
A team of forensic experts and senior officials of Kolkata Police Disaster Management Group have also reached the site to collect samples for investigation into the incident.