A major fire broke out in the iconic book store Kitab Khana in the Fort area of south Mumbai on Wednesday evening.
The fire erupted on the ground floor of Kitab Khana, which also houses a small restaurant, located in the four-storey Somaiya Bhavan building near Flora Fountain. According to the Mumbai Fire Brigade, the fire started at the restaurant, which is on the mezzanine floor, around 4.30 pm. No injuries were reported as the fire brigade rescued 30 people from the building.
A senior fire brigade official said, “The fire is said to have started from the kitchen of the restaurant in the Kitab Khana store. No one was injured, as we managed to evacuate people in time. The blaze was doused around 7.30 pm.” Eight fire engines and six water tankers were rushed to the spot.
The book store has been shut for the fire brigade’s investigation. “Electricity lines have been disconnected. As per procedure, a probe will be conducted to ascertain the exact cause of the fire. The fire brigade will also inspect the premises for violations. After completing the process, the store can reopen,” said Deputy Chief Fire Officer Hemant Parab.
Kitab Khana’s spokesperson said assessment of the damage to the property and books is underway. “Employees were allowed to enter (after the fire was doused), as structurally there was no damage to the store and the fire didn’t spread to other floors. Damage assessment is underway, after that we will know what repair work is required. We are committed to open the store as soon as possible,” the spokesperson added.
On its twitter handle, Kitab Khana said: “Given the circumstances, we regret to inform you that we will be temporarily closed and apologise for any inconvenience caused. At this point, we are unable to confirm how badly our precious books have been affected, but we are grateful that all our staff are safe.”
As the lockdown restrictions were lifted in the city, Kitab Khana had opened to the public on June 8 for pick up and delivery only. The bookstore, usually packed with readers, had only one customer in the store when the fire broke out.
Described as “home away from home” on its website, support messages from book lovers poured in on the bookstores’ twitter handle with many hoping for a quick opening of the store.
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