A major fire broke out at Jyoti Cinema Hall building at the city’s downtown Esplanade in the wee hours of Sunday.
The incident triggered panic among the locals and shopkeepers had to remove their stalls from the area. No casualties were reported.
The cinema hall, located in central Kolkata's Esplanade area, was set up in the mid-1930s and was shut down in 2008.
Since then, the ground floor of the building has been used as a godown for aluminium sheets.
There is a school building beside the cinema hall where fire could have spread and caused major damage.
However, 26 fire tenders from the nearby fire station were rushed into action and managed to douse the flames. The incident is suspected to be the fallout of a conspiracy.
Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee, who also holds the portfolio of state Fire and Emergency Services minister, reached the spot to take stock of the situation.
“A forensic examination will be conducted to ascertain the reason of the fire. It is still unclear as to why the fire broke out,” Chatterjee said.
He also added that fire brigade could not find any obvious source from which the fire originated.
“The fire brigade examined the whole building, from the ground floor aluminium godown to the back side. No sources were found. But we are going for a forensic test. The truth will come out,” the Mayor added.
Meanwhile, a fire brigade officer said that samples collected from the spot will soon be reached to the State Forensic Science Laboratory.
“A fire broke out at 2.10 am and destroyed the entire cinema hall. As many as 26 fire tenders were pressed into service. The fire was brought under control around 4.35 am. No casualties were reported,” said the officer.
Digging into the history of Jyoti Cinema Hall, one of the oldest single-screem theatres in the city, it can be found that the theatre was famous for screening 70mm films in the 1970s. It showcased a steady mix of both Hollywood and Hindi movies.
It is to be recalled that Star Theatre, declared a heritage site, was damaged in a fire several years ago and later restored by the local Municipal Corporation. The restored Star Theatre maintains the heritage facade, although the interiors are contemporary. The property is maintained by a private company now. Presently, the theatre is a cinema hall.
Jyoti Cinema was shut down in 2008 as it was suffering severe financial losses. Some realtors at the time reasoned that single-screen halls were fast closing and the 10,000 sq ft space at Jyoti Cinema was not enough to convert it into a mall or multiplex, notwithstanding the parking problem.