Panic-stricken officials, working in different offices, throng the Collectorate

Several files, computers and furniture were charred in a fire that broke out at the Madurai Collectorate in the early hours of Friday.

Electrical short circuit is suspected to have triggered the fire at around 5 a.m., according to Divisional Fire Officer K. Karuppaiah. Four fire tenders from Madurai and Tallakulam fire stations battled the flames for close to 45 minutes.

The inferno damaged several computers, few cupboards, work stations in ‘A’ Section (Establishment wing), where the service records (SR) of the officials and employees of the Revenue Department were kept.

Only the mangled metal railings remained of the Sherishtadar’s cabin.

The fire that broke out in the hall on the first floor was noticed by a watchman.

He alerted the policemen guarding the Treasury on the ground floor.

They in turn called the Fire and Rescue Services station located on the Collectorate premises, a police officer said.

The noise of glass panes shattering drew the attention of an engineer at the Tamil Nadu State Wide Area Network office close by, who alerted the officials, said District Revenue Officer R. P. Ravindran.

The fire was partially contained.

“We were able to retrieve majority of the SR files. Out of 79 SR files of Tahsildars and Deputy Tahsildars kept here, four were completely gutted. Fifteen others were partly damaged,” Mr. Ravindran added.

As news of fire spread, panic-stricken officials and employees, working in different offices in the district, thronged the Collectorate to ascertain the status of their service records.

The DRO handed over the SR files to the respective employees to set them right. “New service records will be created for those who have lost them,” he added.

The structure of the stone-masonry building did not suffer any damage except for the cement plastering and wall tiles, the fire officer said.

District Collector Anshul Mishra said that preliminary inquiries suggested that the fire may have been caused by the bursting of dry battery cells in the UPS.

The electrical wiring, the UPS and computers damaged by the fire would be replaced, he added.

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