Kolkata: Thick black smoke engulfed the Canning Street as fire fighters continued to battle a fire, raging for over 12 hours, at the multi-storey Bagree Market in Kolkata on Sunday.
No loss of life has been reported yet, but some fire officials suffered injuries during an operation to douse the blaze, said the fire department.
Traders from adjacent buildings were seen fleeing amid fumes and explosion-like sounds from gas cylinder blasts with whatever commodities they could recover from their shops.
The fire at the multi-storey market — around a kilometre away from the RBI office and the Writers’ Building — gutted nearly 1,000 shops and business establishments.
Thirty fire tenders have been pressed into service to contain the blaze. Fire brigade personnel were seen cutting through grills and shutters to make way into the six-storey building, but the congestion in the area made things difficult for the firefighters.
“As the area is very crowded, we are finding it difficult to work. We are using ladders and gas cutters to cut through grills of gates and windows to enter the building,” a senior fire department official told PTI, adding that cracks have appeared in the building.
Shop owners, who tried to get inside the building to retrieve their material were stopped by fire fighters and police officers. “We have items worth several lakhs of rupees in the building. The items were recently bought in view of the (Durga) Puja season. All have been destroyed. We are finished… I had invested everything for this shop,” Satish Agarwal, owner of a cosmetics shop, said.
Locals were also seen lending a hand to the fire department officials to douse the fire, which showed no signs of cooling down even after 12 hours.
City police commissioner Rajeev Kumar, who visited the site with other senior police officers, said the adjoining buildings were evacuated fearing the fire may spread to nearby areas.
The building, divided into several blocks, has shops and godowns on the first three floors, offices on the third and fourth floors and residential accommodations for security guards and their families on the top floor.
“The blaze has taken a massive form. Our officers are working inside and we are giving our best to control the situation,” a senior officer of the fire department told PTI.
Mayor and Fire Services Minister Sovan Chattopadhyay, Trinamool Congress MP Sudip Badopadhyay and local councilor Smita Bakshi, visited the site this morning to take stock of the situation.
(With inputs from PTI)