A massive fire broke out in a busy shopping area in the heart of the capital city on Tuesday. The fire was first reportedly seen in an umbrella showroom, and then it had spread to engulf four more shops nearby.
The fire erupted in East Fort, the busiest part of the capital. Traffic along the heart of the capital, therefore, came to a standstill. However, after nearly hours of fire-fighting, the Fire and Rescue personnel managed to bring the situation partly under control. The fire in the front portion, which looks out into the road, abated.
People in the shops and nearby houses in Pazhavangady area were evacuated. No casualties have been reported. Five units of the Fire and Rescue Department were deployed to check the spread of the billowing fire to more shops in the area.
The nearby textile shops that have humongous stocks of inflammable material made the situation more critical.
Earlier in the day, this looked a herculean task as the shops, most of them at least half a century old, are suffocatingly packed close together. The old buildings posed yet another challenge. Sources say it was risky for rescue personnel to get on top of the old buildings, which have brittle tiled sloping roofs. One personnel, Santhosh, was reportedly injured in action. Santhosh, who is attached to the Chenkalchoolah unit of Fire and Rescue services, is said to be out of danger.
The Fire and Rescue team then managed to get things under control by going on top of the taller concrete buildings in the Pazhavangady area and dousing the fire from there. “The personnel will be able to enter the gutted shops only after the fire has been tamed,” a source said.
The cause of the fire is not yet known. Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran who visited the area said a probe will be launched to check whether it was the result of a short circuit or if sabotage was involved.
Eyewitness say that it was a staff of the Umbrella mart who had first seen the fire. “She saw the fire when she pulled up the shutters to open the shop in the morning,” an eyewitness said. Virtually all the stock in the shop has been destroyed.