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Fire brings shopping mall to the ground

4/27/2015 4:21:46 PM

Soumitra Nandi
Kolkata:
 A devastating fire razed a shopping mall at the heart of the city in New Market area on Sunday afternoon. The fire originated at the second floor of the mall and rapidly spread to the other floors. Twenty-seven fire tenders fought the blaze for more than six hours to bring the fire under control.

An employee of the mall said, “We had opened the mall in the morning and were doing some cleaning stuff when we noticed smoke coming out from one of the top floor of the mall. Some of us went to the second floor and found that a cloth godown has been engulfed with a thick column of smoke. We immediately rushed outside and informed the fire brigade. 

A fire official said the mall was packed with inflammable materials like clothes, plastic so the fire spread rapidly. There was so much smoke that the firemen faced a daunting task to reach the origin of the fire amidst so much smoke. Skyladders were pressed into service and the fire men broke the windows to pour water inside the mall. 

West Bengal fire minister Javed Khan and mayor of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) rushed to the spot. “The mall has been badly razed by the fire. The firemen have ensured that no one is trapped,” said Khan. 

“Preliminary investigation has revealed that the inbuilt fire safety measures in the mall were hardly operational. The emergency exit gate too was closed for business purpose. Situations could have been worse if the fire occurred sometimes later,” said a senior fire departmental official. 

“We will investigate whether there was any negligence on the part of the mall officials,” said mayor Sovon Chatterjee.
At a time in the afternoon when the fire was spreading rapidly men from the Indian Army also rushed to the spot with their fire fighting equipments. But they were allegedly not allowed to join the operation of fire fighting.

The city mayor said,” There was no need of the army to join the operation. We have not called them either.” 

Two of the mall’s employees are presently admitted at SSKM hospital with breathing problem. 

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