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Major fire in Bhagirath Palace

Staff Reporter
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Building develops cracks, can collapse: Fire Service Chief

Call of duty:Firemen dousing the fire at a godown at Bhagirath Palace in Chandni Chowk area in Old Delhi on Thursday.- Photo: S. Subramanium
Call of duty:Firemen dousing the fire at a godown at Bhagirath Palace in Chandni Chowk area in Old Delhi on Thursday.- Photo: S. Subramanium

A major fire broke out in a multi-storey building housing godowns and shops stuffed with highly inflammable electronic material in the Walled City of Delhi’s Bhagirath Palace, Asia’s largest market for electrical goods, on Thursday.

Though no one was injured in the fire, the building had developed cracks and could collapse, said Delhi Fire Service Chief A.K. Sharma.

The fire started at a godown storing electrical appliances on the second floor of the four-storey building and soon spread to shops and godowns on the same floor and the upper floor. Twenty-two fire tenders were rushed to the spot following a call to the Delhi Fire Service Department around 5-30 p.m. and the flames were doused in about two hours.

But the fire-fighters had a tough time fighting the inferno due to its high intensity and congested lanes. “Since it broke out in godowns storing plastic pipes, electrical wires and appliances, the fire was of high intensity and produced a lot of smoke making it difficult for the fire-fighters to see clearly and thus hampered the operations. Our job was made further difficult by the congested lanes and the electrical wires hanging overhead dangerously. The building was also dilapidated necessitating extra precaution, but we managed to keep the fire confined to the point of origin,” said Mr. Sharma.

Though the inhabitants of the building in which the fire broke out had left before the inferno took place, the adjoining buildings were evacuated as a precautionary measure and the barricades were put up to keep away onlookers. “It is normal practice to evacuate the adjoining buildings and put up barricades when the fire operation is being carried out in congested market areas such as Chandni Chowk. The power supply to the area was also snapped to avoid any mishap,” said Mr. Sharma.

After the fire was doused, the area was cordoned-off and water was being poured to cool it off.

The Fire Chief said that it was difficult fighting fire in congested market places in the Capital and some standard precautions were taken while operating in such terrain. “We cannot change the ground reality and need to negotiate it every time there is fire in a crowded market place. In such cases, the fire-tenders from different stations are rushed so that even if one route is found blocked due to heavy traffic, the tenders from other routes could reach the spot at the earliest possible. Besides, the tenders are kept parked at wider roads and long pipes are used to take water to the spot,” said Mr. Sharma.

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