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29 shops reduced to ashes in Unit-I market

Staff Reporter
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People trying to retrieve whatever they can from the gutted shops at Unit-1 market, in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday. —Photo: Lingaraj Panda
People trying to retrieve whatever they can from the gutted shops at Unit-1 market, in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday. —Photo: Lingaraj Panda

Properties worth more than Rs. 4 crore were gutted when shops in congested Unit I market, one of oldest markets, in capital city caught fire on the wee hours of Tuesday.

As many as 29 shops were reduced to ashes in the devastating blaze that broke out around 2.30 a.m. on Tuesday. The fire suspected to have originated from short-circuit, engulfed shops that sold stationery, books, plastic and grocery items. However, there was no report of any casualty or injury.

Although 29 shops were completed gutted in the fire, another six shops had also been extensively damaged under the impact of flame. Moreover, electronic goods available in nearby shops were damaged when firefighters sprayed water to put out fire.

Firemen responded to disaster in time which resulted in further spreading of shops in Unit-I market which had 1,440 shops over 3.928 acres of land. Traders started getting calls about fire around 2.45 am. They immediately rushed to the spot separating the block that caught fire from rest. It could well have been a disaster had all shops been engulfed by the fire.

“Everything is lost in the fire. Different items worth Rs. 5 lakh was stored in the shop. By the time firemen got control over the fire, all was lost,” said Baman Sahu, a trader who dealt stationery and home appliances. Fire was finally extinguished around 4 a.m.

“Traders whose shops were reduced to ashes had lost everything. Apart from their own investments, they had obtained goods in credit. We have time and again requested the State government to supply power by underground cables. But the same was not thought of. The government should come out and bail out traders affected by fire,” said Gayadhar Swain, general secretary of Unit-I Market Traders’ Association.

Mayor of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation A. N. Jena said the priority before the corporation was to clear debris from the market and subsequently assessment of loss would be carried out.

Although the corporation had proposed traders to rehabilitate them in multi-storeyed market complex in the same area, traders were not agreeing to enumeration of shopkeepers in Unit I market and mechanism of allotment of space in the complex.

Fire suspected to have originated from short-circuit around 2.30 a.m. on Tuesday

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