Records stocked in one of the rooms at the Social Welfare Department office in K.K.Nagar were destroyed in a fire, suspected to have caused by an electrical short-circuit, on Monday.
Two fire tenders from Tallakulam fire station were rushed to the spot, and Fire Rescue Services personnel, led by District Fire Officer K.Karuppaiah, fought for nearly 45 minutes to put out the flames.
The fire was noticed at around 3.40 p.m. in the record room on the first floor of the building that houses the office. “We saw smoke outside the building, but we thought it was smoke from burning garbage on the street,” a woman employee said.
When the employees realised that the fire had broke out on their premises, they alerted the Fire and Rescue Services personnel.
By the time the firefighters arrived at the scene, the flames had destroyed most of the files. Thick smoke coming out of the room made it difficult for the firemen to go near the flames. Only after the window panes were broken and the smoke allowed them to pass through, they could start fighting the inferno, an official said.
Dumping of files without following the standard procedures is said to have led to the fire.
“If the files were stocked neatly at a safe distance of two feet from the wall (having wires and switch boards), the sparks from electrical wiring would not have fallen on the papers,” a Fire and Rescue officer said.
An employee claimed that all the files kept in the records room were dumped after the auditing inspection. “Those were the files dating back to 1982. We were awaiting orders from our higher-ups to destroy them,” he added.