Home India News Kolkata fire finally put out, traders protest demolition

Kolkata fire finally put out, traders protest demolition


Kolkata : The inferno that engulfed a high-rise building in Kolkata’s Burrabazar wholesale market was completely extinguished Wednesday morning after nearly five days of concentrated efforts by firemen.

However, a clash broke out in the afternoon when the traders resisted Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) men from demolishing the dangerous portions of the alleged illegally constructed upper floors of the building housing Nandaram market.

“The blaze is fully put out now. In fact, it was tamed at around 7.30 p.m. Tuesday but we are still spraying water to cool down the interiors. The heat generated by the fire caused cracks in the building but the overall structure is absolutely safe,” West Bengal Fire Services Principal Officer Gopal Bhattacharya told IANS.

“Our engines are still stationed there to spray water but they would be gradually taken away,” he said.

“There were lots of criticisms but I must tell you that this building is perhaps the only building in the world where an entire 13-storied building was being used as a godown and where the generators were installed on the top floor,” he added.

“Have you ever heard of generators on the top of a building?” he asked.

The KMC Wednesday began pulling down the dangerous portions of the building amid protests by a section of traders.

The Congress also demonstrated before the state secretariat Writers’ Buildings against the inadequacies of the fire department to effectively control the blaze.

West Bengal Home Secretary Prasad Ranjan Roy Tuesday said two inquiry committees would be set up to probe the cause of the fire and the legality of the constructions in the congested Burrabazar area.

Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee Tuesday met West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi and complained about inadequacies in the disaster management system in the megapolis.

The fire was extinguished after a long hydraulic ladder was brought in Monday night from Haldia, about 125 km from here.

“We have used a very tall and sophisticated ladder from Haldia Petrochemicals to douse the flames,” Bhattacharya said.

A lone sky-lift ladder of the fire department was earlier trying to fight the blaze that proved too powerful to be tamed while a 30-member team of army firemen had joined their civilian counterparts to combat the inferno.

On Monday, journalists of national and local television channels covering the blaze were attacked by a mob and their equipment damaged. Some journalists were hospitalised.

Traders of Burrabazar said about 2,500 shops, dealing in plastics, polythene and other inflammable materials, were gutted and losses could cross Rs.2 billion.

A trader, Tej Narayan Baidya, died Sunday of a heart attack after having lost his belongings.

B.D. Mimani, secretary of the local trade organisation, said “99 percent” of the traders had not insured their shops and would have to rebuild their lives from scratch.

It was not clear how the fire began but an electrical short circuit is suspected, though police officials were not ruling out arson.

The blaze, which had engulfed at least eight buildings, broke out at 1.15 a.m. Saturday in the Tirpalpatti market and the adjoining Nandaram complex.

Burrabazar is the wholesale market area of Kolkata with clusters of unplanned and unauthorised constructions.