An outlet of the Crossword Bookstores located on the first floor of Sohrab Hall commercial complex near Pune railway station was completely gutted after a fire broke out there on Sunday night.
Five persons trapped inside were rescued and two firemen sustained injuries during the rescue operations.
According to Pune Fire Brigade, they received a call from the city police control room around 8.40 pm on Sunday about a fire in Sohrab Hall commercial complex. Two fire tenders from the fire station near Naidu Hospital reached the spot withing two minutes.
The fire was reported from the Crossword Bookstore located in the right wing of the building.
“The fire was spreading very fast and it had already covered the entire shop. We deployed a total of eight fire tenders and additional four water tankers and a team of at least 80 firemen worked for over eight hours to bring the fire under control,” said Prashant Ranpise, chief fire officer of Pune fire brigade.
Though the spread of the fire was brought under control around 5 am, it took six more hours for the fire brigade teams to control the huge amount of smoke coming out the premises.
Though extensive damage was only reported from the Crossword Bookstore, some of the adjacent shops and offices and those from the floor above also suffered damages due to fumes, smoke and water used for extinguishing operation.
Five persons, all staffers of various shops on the first floor, were rescued by the fire brigade teams. During the rescue operation, two firemen, Jitendra Sapate and Rajaram Pujari, sustained injuries and were being treated at Jehangir Hospital.
A senior official from the fire brigade said, “Even after primary observation, we were not in a position to pinpoint the exact cause of fire. It could be a short circuit or even spark from a fire cracker. Police and Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) officials will probe into it.”
The official added, “Though fire-fighting equipment of the Sohrab Hall were in place, they were not functioning. They did not have any active water supply. Also almost all the windows of the Crossword Bookstore were sealed to be used to shelves, worsening the situation.”
Bhaskar, manager at Crossword in Sohrab Hall, said, “The fire has completely gutted the store. We’ve lost nearly one lakh books, apart from stationary items and CDs. As of now, we’re not able to calculate the financial loss as the remains have not been cleaned; but we’re expecting a huge loss. The renovation will take time.”