As many as 19 furniture shops were gutted after a fire broke out at illegal furniture market of Lakhnaur village on Mohali-Landran road in the early hours of Sunday. Nobody was injured in the incident. The shopkeepers said that the furniture items worth Rs 10 crore were gutted. Short circuit was said to be the reason behind the fire. The Deputy Commissioner marked an inquiry into the incident.
The fire broke out around 4.15 am. A security guard who was on duty informed some shopkeepers. The fire brigade was informed at 4.55 am. Seven fire tenders, including five from Mohali, one each from Chandigarh and Derabassi were pressed into service. The fire brigade took around 5.30 hours to control the fire.
The market is spread over 3.5 acres of land and is located just opposite the Border Security Force’s (BSF) complex. The market was set up in 1994. But the market was not regularised either by any civic body or by the district administration. Apart from the furniture, two sheds which were meant to store wood were gutted, too.
The president of the market, Sunil Verma, told Chandigarh Newsline that a security guard had informed him around 4.20 am that the fire broke out at the market. He added that he called other shopkeepers and most of the shopkeepers reached the market by 5 am but by then the fire had spread at the entire market.
“The fire spread swiftly and it engulfed the entire market. We did not get any time to control the fire, since the marriage season is at its peak. The shopkeepers had taken many orders to make furniture. It is all ruined now, “ Verma said.
Asked about the damage which the shopkeepers suffered in the fire, Verma said that the damage was to the tune of Rs 10 crore but it could go up as the shopkeepers were yet to assess the loss. He said that the exact loss could be assessed once they cleared the debris of sheds.
Verma refused to comment when he was told that that the market was illegal and the shopkeepers did not have proper fire safety arrangements.
On the cause of the fire, Verma said that they came to know that two shopkeepers had got a solar system installed inside their shops. They might have forgotten to switch off the solar system which caused the fire. “But it is not yet clear. We are trying to figure out the reason,” Verma added.
Baba Harinder Singh, the owner of Preet Furniture, the biggest shop at the market, said that his shop was spread in around one acre land. He added that he had taken around 50 orders for preparing furniture for marriages but the entire furniture was gutted, causing a loss of around Rs 2 crore to him.
“I received a call around 4.20 am. By the time I reached the market, my godown and the wood cutting units were gutted. We could not do anything except watching our shops going up in flames,” he said.
Asked how many people were working at the market, Baba Harinder Singh said that there were around 1,000 people who were working at the market. He added that all the shopkeepers had suffered an irreparable loss. Cabinet minister Balbir Singh Sidhu visited the site and spoke to the shopkeepers. Sidhu said that he would speak to the administration to identify a proper location for the market.
DC Gurpreet Kaur Sapra said that she had asked the tehsildar to prepare a report and submit it to her. Asked how the administration could permit an illegal market to operate, the DC said that she asked the tehsildar to prepare a detailed report on the operation of the market. Sub-fire officer Davinder Singh, who led the operation to control the fire, told Chandigarh Newsline that the short circuit could be the cause of the fire. He added that a passer-by called the fire brigade at 4.55 am and informed them about the fire.
“If the security guard would have called us then the damage would have been contained to some extent. We are yet to figure out the exact reason,” he added.
Davinder Singh said that a total of seven fire tenders were pressed into service and they filled the water from BSF complex.
No lessons learnt
The administration did not learn any lesson as a fire had broken out at the furniture market at Lakhnour in April this year — at a spot located around 300 metres from the area where the fire broke out on Sunday. At that time, 39 furniture shops were gutted. The fire had broke out at that time when a labourer was cooking food.