Kolkata medical college fire: Forensics rule out short-circuit

Sources said the pharmacy did not have a fire or smoke detection system in the storeroom, and hence, no alert was triggered.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | Published: October 5, 2018 1:00:38 am
Forensic team member Wasim Raja outside the pharmacy on Thursday. (Express Photo by Partha Paul)

A forensic team on Thursday visited the site of the fire at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, 30 hours after the incident. While the cause is yet to be ascertained, the health department will pass instructions to ensure pharmacies are located in spacious areas, sources said.

Over 250 patients had to be evacuated after a fire broke out in the pharmacy, located in the CMCH building on Wednesday. In the absence of enough stretchers, many patients were carried out on bedsheets. Officials said no casualty was reported. It is estimated that medicines worth Rs 5 crore were destroyed in the blaze.

Sources said it has been determined that the fire was not caused by a short-circuit. The control room and account room of the pharmacy were the worst affected, and computers and documents were destroyed. The nature of materials stocked at the pharmacy such as chemicals and cotton made it tough for firefighters to arrest the fire.

“We are yet to find out what caused the fire, it doesn’t look like a short-circuit case. However, samples have been collected and we are probing the incident,” said a forensic official.

Sources said the pharmacy did not have a fire or smoke detection system in the storeroom, and hence, no alert was triggered.

A hospital official claimed that it the duty of the Public Works Department to implement safety measures. However, a PWD department official claimed, “We are responsible only for the maintenance of the building.”

No complaint has been lodged against the authorities of the hospital till late on Thursday.

Aside from calling for better placement of pharmacies, sources said the health department will also intensify its efforts to ensure better fire-fighting facilities in all government medical colleges and hospitals, said an official.

“Every hospital is well-equipped with fire facilities. The setup of these buildings is old, which causes such incidents at times. If there are any loopholes, then corrective measures will be taken. The presence of mind shown by the patients’ relatives and the hospital staff helped to avert a bigger disaster,” said a senior Swasthya Bhawan official.

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