Timely intervention by the Fire and Rescue Services personnel helped avert a major disaster in the city after a godown storing plastic mats and floor carpets on Chalikkavattam-Kottamkavu road near Vyttila went up in flames Wednesday afternoon.

No one was injured in the fire though first reports said that a fire official sustained injuries in the initial phase of fire-fighting operations.

The fire plunged the thickly populated neighbourhood into panic.

A large quantity of the material stored in the godown has been gutted and the building, spread over 3000 sq. ft., charred and run down.

Electric and television network cables melted in the fire and a stretch of electric cables collapsed on the road.

Kochi Corporation councillor N.A. Shafeeq of Division 46 (Chakkaraparambu) was one of the first to arrive at the scene and went in with the first batch of fire services personnel. He said he was terrorised and confused because of the flames.

Shibu, who lives near the godown, came rushing to the spot after seeing black smoke billowing out of the godown. He said the huge flames frightened him.

A fireman said the godown at first looked impossible to approach and it took nearly an hour to ensure that the fire was brought under control. The fire broke out, possibly triggered by welding sparks, at about 3.15 p. m. Frightened neighbours alerted the police after seeing huge clouds of smoke billowing out of the godown and sensing a strong odour of burning rubber and plastic.

Fire tenders from Club Road, Gandhi Nagar and Tripunithura rushed to the spot. Fire officials were initially overawed by the enormity of the fire. As the embers continued to emit smoke, fire-fighters were found spraying water all over the building well past 5.45 p.m.

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