At least eight shops were completely gutted in a major fire that broke out at Palayam market on Saturday morning. No casualties have been reported in the incident that occurred at around 7.30 a.m.

Initially the fire broke out from the kitchen of a hotel and slowly began to spread to adjoining shops in the commercial street. The hotel staff informed the fire station. However the fire brigade reached the spot without adequate water for extinguishing the flames. By that time, the hotel was almost reduced to ashes and the fire began to swell from a godown of a leather showroom.

Only after an hour, additional fire force units reached Palayam. Twenty fire tenders including a sophisticated one attached to the Calicut Airport were later pressed into action.

Thick black smoke billowed out of the roofs of the shops and began to reach the nearby Women and Child Hospital at Kottapparamba causing panic among the spectators and hospital workers.

However the situation was brought under control after more than three hours. Fire and rescue services personnel assisted by local people and workers had a tough time to douse the flames.

Meanwhile, the district Collector, P.B. Salim, who reached Palayam to take stock of the situation, had to face the ire of the angry workers and traders. A group also tried to manhandle him.

He was also prevented from reaching the spot. The protesters said that the delay on the part of the fire service personnel caused a minor fire from spreading to other shops. Dr. Salim was forced to retreat in his official car.

The district administration has ordered a probe. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined as well as estimate the loss. Fire force personnel said that the accident could have been possibly triggered by an electric short circuit.

Most of the shops at Palayam and Sweet Meat Street failed to adhere to the safety norms prescribed by the government and also have improper wiring system.

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