A major accident was averted at Gold Souk Grande Mall in Vyttila on Monday, after a suspected electrical short circuit inside a garment outlet triggered a fire.

Personnel of the Fire and Rescue Services Department battled the blaze and put it out two hours after the fire broke out around 4 p.m. Two employees of the outlet were injured in the incident.

Two units from the Gandhinagar fire station were pressed into service immediately after the incident was reported. Joe Kuruvila Easo, divisional officer of the Fire and Rescue Services Department, Ernakulam, said the fire erupted from an air-conditioner duct due to a short circuit.

He said cloth and cardboard materials were found dumped in the air-conditioner duct in violation of the prescribed safety norms.

Smoke billowed incessantly as panic gripped employees of various outlets and visitors at the mall. Women employees of an outlet said the fire alarm system worked and they immediately rushed out of the mall. Officials of the Fire and Rescue Services asked the mall management to immediately shut down operations. But people were seen moving around even half-an-hour after the fire broke out.

The Department of Fire and Rescue Services had found in July last year that the mall lacked even basic fire-fighting equipment. The divisional office had also sent a letter to the District Collector to convey its opinion that the shopping mall complex poses a threat to the lives of people visiting it.

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