A massive fire brought down two buildings in Chandni Chowk on Thursday evening and scorched several others.

NEW DELHI: A massive fire brought down two buildings in Chandni Chowk on Thursday evening and scorched several others. However, no casualties or injuries were reported though the narrow approach roads and the congested area made rescue and firefighting a challenge.

Over 42 fire tenders were engaged in the firefighting for over eight hours after a call at 5pm alerted Delhi Fire Service to the blaze at the cloth market. When the fire kept rekindling due to the presence of inflammable material, more fire tenders were dispatched to assist the firemen. Nearly 200 firemen were deployed to extinguish the flames and for the cooling operations,
DFS chief
Atul Garg said. “Two buildings had collapsed which posed a major problem in dousing the fire,” he added.
Police have filed an FIR and are working with DFS to ascertain the cause of the inferno. The initial probe showed the probable cause being an electrical
Shop numbers 1580-81 at Purana Marwadi Katra in
were first affected, an official said.
Deepak Mahendru, president, Nai Sarak Traders Association, said that the fire originated from a short circuit in an air conditioner on the ground and upper floor of the building. “A guard’s wife saw the spark and alerted everyone and people hurriedly vacated the building,” Mahendru said.

The fire engulfed a building and then spread to Purana Marwadi Katra, resulting in the destruction of around 40 shops. “All of them were garment shops,” said Mahendru, who estimated that goods worth over crores of rupees were gutted in the blaze.
Fire officers said that weak structures, water shortage and narrow lanes hampered firefighting operations. The crowd that gathered was another problem.

While nearby shops were shut down as a precautionary measure, traders waited for the inferno to be extinguished, their faces covered with handkerchiefs, a trick they said they had learned from the numerous fires in the market over the years.
Narender, 60, who runs a shop in the market, said the fire started at 4.30pm. It took the fire brigade 15-20 minutes to arrive. Another shopkeeper, Jaspal Singh, 54, said that upon seeing smoke, everyone grabbed fire extinguishers and rushed to control the flames, but proved unsuccessful. The fire was so severe that fire engines emptied their thanks within 30 minutes.

Those who lost their shops mourned the fact that they had lost their only means of livelihood and contemplated a bleak future. Kamaljeet, 50, whose two sari shops were ravaged by the fire, stood in the crowd with a look of despair on his face. He said that there wasn’t enough time to save his stocks because the fire spread rapidly and they just had to abandon their shops and run to safety.
Minsiter Atishi said, “I am in constant touch with district administration regarding the fire in Chandni Chowk area. It is by God’s grace that no life has been lost in this incident. The fire brigade will soon bring the fire under complete control. In this season of scorching heat, I request all of you to not allow any possibility of short-circuit around you, take precautions and stay safe,” she said.

Chandni Chowk MP Praveen Khandelwal alleged that the negligence of the power distribution companies and Delhi govt had caused the fire and they should compensate the shop owners. He said that it was shocking that none of the newly installed fire hydrants on the Chandni Chowk main road were working, forcing fire brigade engines to travel long distances to bring water.

Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor claimed the fire spread due to cables hanging all around, proving how important it was to set up a permanent fire station at Town Hall.
Discom sources said that the fire started on the fourth floor of the first building. “The meters are installed on the ground floor and the distribution network is intact.

The discom, thus, has no connection with the incident. The fire is reported to have started on account of sparks from welding,” claimed one source.
In March, DFC said that the fire hydrants and pump system in Chandni Chowk would be ready for use in the coming week. In a meeting with various market associations, it had also promised that the traders would be provided training on fire safety regulations, the process of obtaining a fire safety certification and techniques to manage emergencies.

By bemaad

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