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Chemical godown near Howrah Bridge gutted in massive blaze

Chemical godown near Howrah Bridge gutted in massive blaze

Kolkata: A massive fire broke out at a godown situated close to Jagannath Ghat near Howrah Bridge in the wee hours of Saturday triggering panic among the locals.

As many as 20 fire tenders were deployed to douse the flames. No casualty or injuries have been reported so far in the incident. State Fire minister Sujit Bose and Director General of the Fire and Emergency Services department also rushed to the spot early on Saturday morning to supervise the fire fighting drive.

According to the officials, the fire occurred at around 2 am on Saturday at a godown that had stocked a huge amount of chemicals and other inflammable materials. The fire later spread to the adjacent areas. The firefighters also suspect that the blaze could have been triggered from the shanties situated along the circular railway track. It took a long time for the fire officials to bring the situation under control. The firefighters had to use water from River Hooghly after their own resources got exhausted in the process at around 9.30 am. The fire was brought under control at around 3 pm but the cooling process lasted for another couple of hours. A portion of the roof of the godown developed cracks due to the heat generated inside it. The blaze also engulfed a vehicle that was parked close to the affected area. All the stocks that were inside the building were damaged.

Senior police officers also reached the spot immediately after the incident was reported. They cordoned off the entire area and the traffic movement on Strand Bank Road was diverted. The officials are not ruling out the possibility of the fire originating from outside the godown. Its source will only be confirmed after the fire officials conduct a thorough probe into the incident.

According to the preliminary investigation, the fire officials suspect that there was no fire-fighting mechanism in place and the godown owners did not renew the fire license. A detailed probe has been initiated by the police and fire officials. Steps would be taken against those who were running it without the appropriate clearance. The Fire department is expected to start a suo motu case against the godown owners. The police said they are investigating the cause of the fire which they fear might have originated externally.

"We were unable to make an entry inside the building initially mainly because of the heat and a cloud of thick black smoke that covered up the entire area. We managed to sprinkle water through a gap in the roof caused due to the impact of the fire," a senior fire official said.

Sujit Bose said: "A huge amount of chemicals and other inflammable materials were kept inside the godown and that aggravated the situation. The firefighters had to use foam to douse the flames. A probe has been initiated."

The exact cause of the fire and the extent of the damage are yet to be confirmed. Meanwhile, the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) in its press statement said two organisations, namely Andaman PWD & Pawan Commercial, occupied a portion of the ground floor. KoPT has duly notified all the occupants of KoPT's properties for strict compliance of fire safety measures.

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