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Updated: June 15, 2013 08:19 IST

Blaze destroys Kalas Mahal; 1 fireman dead

Petlee Peter
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Fire-fighters try to douse a major fire at Ezhilagam in Chepauk, Chennai, on Monday. Photo: R. Ragu
The Hindu
Fire-fighters try to douse a major fire at Ezhilagam in Chepauk, Chennai, on Monday. Photo: R. Ragu

A major fire broke out in Khalsa Mahal, part of the Chepauk Palace, a heritage building, destroying the offices of the directorates of Social Welfare, and Industries and Commerce, in the early hours of Monday.

One fireman was killed and three others, including a Divisional Fire Officer, were injured when the roof of the 18th century structure came crashing down during the five-hour firefighting operations.

The fire, in which important government documents and papers were charred, was due to an electrical short circuit, suspect sources in the Fire and Rescue Services.

A fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, Khalsa Mahal was one of the two structures that formed the core of the palace, which was taken over by the British in 1859.

In the 1960s, the Tamil Nadu government constructed the Ezhilagam complex, fronting the Marina beach, and located several of its offices there, including some in the palace buildings.

The fire was first noticed by the watchman of the Directorate of Industries and Commerce, K. Kapoor Bague (50). Within 45 minutes, they managed to contain the blaze on the western side.

Following this, DFO (Chennai City Central) N. Priya Ravichandran, Station Fire Officer (Ashok Nagar) Murugan and a few others went inside the building through an iron gate on the western side.

Moments later, the roof of the building collapsed. The weight of the debris brought the first floor crashing to the ground as well.

K. Anbazhagan (55), a Leading Fireman with the Teynampet station, got trapped under the burning debris and died on the spot. His body was removed from the debris after a 45-minute struggle.

Ms. Priya narrowly missed coming under the debris as she ran out but suffered severe burn injuries. Mr. Murugan's left leg got trapped in the rubble.

Fireman Prabhakaran (22) also sustained injuries.

Ms. Priya and Mr. Murugan were admitted to Apollo Hospitals and their condition is stable, sources said.

More than 70 firemen fought the blaze using 15 fire tenders and over 30 water lorries. It was put out completely around 6 a.m.

The Anna Square police have registered a case based on a complaint by Mr. Bague and are investigating.

Government has been put-in lots of regulation through Factories act and various electrical rules for Industries to ensure that the they comply all safety regulations. We are not clear how the government buildings and offices are certified by what agencies. There are more accidents waiting to happen in Goverment offices if there is no proper checks are in place. Will the government act now?.

from:  Ramprasad
Posted on: Jan 19, 2012 at 18:07 IST

What is the cause of the accident? No reports have been given regarding that. And now the building is going to be razed because its destroyed beyond repair. Something fishy.

from:  Arvind
Posted on: Jan 18, 2012 at 13:10 IST

This is going in the way it exactly happened to Moore market during MGR's administration. Ezhilagam has a pretty good history, this should be clearly a sabotage as the news item says more documents have been destroyed. It is very much disturbing why should the fire officer with some team members go into the building while it is clearly known it has been damaged.

from:  Ravi
Posted on: Jan 18, 2012 at 09:04 IST

Why the fire service pesonnel were not using the Personnel Protective Equipment while fighting the fire? Were they issued one by the Government? If so, were they trained to utilise them? Is the training facility for T.N. Fire Service personnel sufficient? The government should appoint a study team and act on its report immediately.
Is the Government of Tamil Nadu send their lower level fire personnel to a national training institute. Is the indigenous training of TNFS consist of practical and field trainig?

from:  s s moorthy
Posted on: Jan 17, 2012 at 22:45 IST

1.Please correct the name as KHALAS MAHAL and not KHALSA as this would imply the Sikh connection!The name is given due to the carvings on the main central structure. 2.The fact that it belonged to Nawab Walajah should have been mentioned. There is a stone plaque on the outer walls which states that it belongs to the Nawab of Arcot.The road leading to the palace is called Walajah Road,named after the owner of the palace 3.Your history correspondent can visit the Prince of Arcot at Amir Mahal Pycrofts Road,to get the correct information about its history. 4.The present Amir Mahal where the descendant of Walajah resides was given in exchange to the KHALAS MAHAL

from:  dr.mohammed nayeem
Posted on: Jan 17, 2012 at 15:38 IST

I suspect foul-play by real-estate sharks.

from:  Senthil
Posted on: Jan 17, 2012 at 07:24 IST

Nothing is regulated in India, everything works with a commission under the table. No building regulations are being followed, this is a very good example. Sad that it took a fireman's life.

from:  ramesh
Posted on: Jan 17, 2012 at 06:47 IST
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