A huge fire on Thursday gutted a large portion of the students’ hostel of the Government School of Nursing here.

The structure of the hostel, which has 98 occupants, is made of wood.

There were no casualties reported, though the plumes of smoke rising from the building triggered panic among patients and their attendants in the General Hospital nearby.

The fire broke out around 9.30 a.m. and was noticed in the first floor of the double-storied building by a student, who was offering her morning prayers. Four others were sleeping in an adjacent room after their night shift.

The four, along with a couple of staff of the hostel, managed to run out of the building before the fire spread. A student, trapped on the first floor, was later rescued through a window by hospital staff and Fire and Rescue Services personnel.

Some students, who were in shock, were admitted to the casualty of the General Hospital, from where they were discharged later in the day, with their conditions declared stable.

One of the Fire and Rescue Services personnel suffered burns during the fire-fighting and was undergoing treatment with the burns stated to be not on a major scale.

Within minutes of the fire breaking out, five fire engines from Chakka and Chengalchoola rushed to the spot and toiled for over three hours to douse the blaze that threatened to spread from the hostel.

Firemen had to take positions atop adjacent buildings to fight the fire, even as onlookers helped occupants remove their valuable stuff.

Some students reported that their certificates were lost, though most of them were stored in an almirah on the ground floor.

Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar, who visited the spot along with K. Muraleedharan, MLA, during the fire, said preliminary indications were that a short circuit could have caused the blaze.

Probe

The Principal Secretary (Health) had been asked to probe the incident and to submit a report soon. With the building being quite old, decisions on a new building would be taken soon based on the probe report, Mr. Sivakumar said, adding steps would also be initiated to issue duplicate certificates to students who had reported them lost or burnt.

Immediate arrangements were also being put in place for alternative accommodation of the occupants, he said.

The fire in the hostel also caused panic among those in the office of the State AIDS Control Society, the nursing college, and the staff nurses’ hostel.

Police had a tough time pacifying and managing the attendants of patients at the hospital, who were terrified by the smoke and the chaos.