Fire broke out at South City Mall on Sunday morning. The lavish shopping mall at the heart of South Kolkata was completely evacuated. The blaze was initially seen at the food court of the mall and later spread in some other areas.
It was at around 9:15 am when people from the crossroads saw the flame and black smoke coming out of the top floor of the mall. The security guards of the mall saw the black smoke covering the entire food court.
The fire alarm started to ring repeatedly as the mall authority rushed to the Cinema-Multiplex to evacuate. The morning show had just begun, when spectators were told to vacate the hall. “They were initially not told about the incident in order to avert the panic situation. People from South City apartment, adjacent to the mall also came out,” said a security guard.
Security guards immediately severed all electric connections. “Some of the people were in the food court having their breakfast. They were rescued,” said the security guard.
Initially, 15 fire tenders were rushed to the spot. But later, fire brigade officers decided to call up nine more fire tenders in two phases to douse the flame.
The police stopped movement of vehicles in the vicinity of the mall to let the fire engines get access. The mall authority also decided to close the mall for the day and called up an emergency meeting.
Fire minister Sovon Chatterjee visited the spot. The officers took the minister to the area where the fire had broken out. A team from the Kolkata Police’s disaster management group also rushed to the spot. A fibre glass wall in the food court was demolished to let the smoke out, a fire brigade officer said.
“Fire is absolutely under control as our fire officers fought bravely to douse the fire. They are still using water to douse fire in pockets. By the nature of it, it seems that the fire was caused due to short circuit,” the minister said.
However, the police and the fire brigade are probing whether there was any negligence on the part of the Mall authority. “We did not waste time to call up the fire brigade. The mall has been closed today (Sunday). We’ll open it as soon as fire brigade gives us approval,” said Deep Das, deputy manager, South City Mall.
“It was really difficult to clear the smoke from the centrally air-conditioned building. We broke some of the glasses and wall to clear the smoke from inside the mall,” said Gaur Prasad Ghosh, Director Fire and Emergency Service and Principal, Institute of fire service.
Fire fighters used oxygen masks while dousing the fire.