As 25 fire tenders were pressed into service, the blaze could not be controlled till late in the evening. The police have requested the Army to assess the situation.
The Model House at 40 Strand Road, houses over 320 store owners and tenants. The godown, a 1,500 to 2,000 sq ft area, has raw material around 40 to 50 store owners/tenants. “We have been asked by the police to look into the matter. We have sent our three officers to the site and a decision will be taken in this regard after assessing the situation,” said Army spokesperson Group Captain RK Das. However, since no official request was made by the government, Army personnel were providing only advisory help in controlling the fire.
Usually the Army is called in when the Fire Department decides that additional aid is needed to douse a fire.
According to the Fire department, fire safety norms were not followed by the residents. A fire official said that a police complaint will be launched against the occupants of the building as none of them had valid fire clearance from the department.
“The fire is massive. We are trying to bring it under control since morning. We had issued a notice to the occupants of the building last year following the Nandaram Market fire, but they did not pay any heed,” said Gopal Bhattacharya, Director, State Fire and Emergency Service.
The fire is suspected to have been caused by a short-circuit. According to the caretaker of the building, he saw smoke billowing out of the godown in the basement around 5.30 am.
“All underground godowns should have preventive systems like sensors, sprinklers and detectors. There should be mandatory ventilation for such places, especially where hazardous and flammable materials are kept. This godown lacked all these safety norms. It is very difficult to reach the godown as we have no idea about the construction plan of the building,” said AK Sarkar, Divisional Fire Officer.
“My metal store was on the ground floor and I used to keep my raw materials in the godown. I am unable to assess the damage caused by the fire,” said CC Kasera, a businessman.