Firefighters toil for 10 hours to douse Chandni Chowk blaze

  • | Saturday | 15th June, 2024

Firefighters toiled overnight for more than 10 hours in stifling heat to bring under control a massive fire that gutted more than 50 shops in tightly-packed buildings in north Delhis Chandni Chowk area. Delhi Fire Services (DFS) officials said that flames were still simmering under some collapsed portions of buildings and a cooling operation is underway. The fire broke out in Chandni Chowks Old Katra Marwadi Market around 5 pm on Thursday. There were no casualties reported from the massive fire. Stating that the fire was brought under control at 4.30 am, Garg said, "Eight fire tenders have been deployed for the cooling operation. Over 50 fire tenders and 200 personnel worked through the night to control the blaze." He added that more than 50 small and big shops were gutted in the fire. A 51 year old shopkeeper Jaspreet Singh has tears in his eyes as the fire engulfed his shop, stating that it was his only source of earning. He said, "My priority was to save my workers and customers. I asked them to evacuate the shop as quickly as possible. I was the last person to leave. After ensuring that no one was left behind, somehow I closed the shutter which was already hot and ran away." Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) M K Meena said forensics and electricity departments will conduct an inspection after the cooling operation is complete and an FIR is being registered in the matter. Chandni Chowk BJP MP Praveen Khandelwal also visited the fire affected area and talked to the local businessmen. DFS officials said firefighters had to face several challenges in the operation. "Due to the (narrow) lanes, we had to extend our fire hose for more than 300 metres and had to add extra pressure," an official said, adding that the fire department also had to use water bowsers and robots to douse the flames. He further said that there were no water sources nearby which added to the problem of refilling the water tanks. "The shops had combustible material which only needed a small spark," he said. Dangling power lines in the area also posed a challenge for the firefighters. Another officer said the fire broke out due to a short circuit in an air conditioner in a shop on the second floor of one of the buildings and it quickly spread to other shops. Firefighters struggled to douse the flames as shops are interconnected in the narrow lanes of the old Katra Marwadi Market, he said. Nai Sadak Traders Welfare Association president Deepal Mahendru said the number of damaged shops may go up to 100.  Deepak Mahendru, president of Nai Sadak Traders Association, said that police and fire brigade teams are still keeping traders away from their shops as more buildings could still collapse. "Once the cooling operation and inspection are completed, we can calculate the losses. They will be in crores. So far, I got to know that more than 50 shops are gutted causing a loss of Rs 70 to 80 crores of products only," Mahendru said, adding that the fire started from shop number 1580 or 1581, and within no time it engulfed the entire area. Two buildings housing multiple shops, including the one where the fire started, collapsed due to the blaze. Small fires are still simmering in combustible items under the debris, Garg said, adding that the shops that were gutted sold sarees, dupattas and other combustible items. The AAP government is exploring all possible ways to restore the gutted Katra Marwadi market.

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