Inferno engulfs several shanties
Kolkata: A massive fire broke out at a slum opposite Duttabad off eastern Metropolitan bypass on Tuesday evening triggering panic among the local residents. Traffic at the busy EM Bypass road came to a halt.
Hundreds of people were rendered homeless. Though no casualties were reported as yet, search is on to find out injured persons who might have been trapped in any of the damaged hut.
Fifteen fire tenders were pressed into service and the firefighters fought the blaze for over two hours before brining it under control. The police cordoned off the entire areas and traffic along EM bypass was disrupted. The cause of the fire and the extent of damage are yet to be ascertained.
Sujit Bose, State Fire and Emergency Services minister and Firhad Hakim chairman of the board of administrator of Kolkata Municipal Corporation went to the spot and oversaw the dousing operation.
Bose said: "The cause of the fire and the extent of the damage are yet to be ascertained. Our primary duty is to ensure that the people are safe. The fire is under control. We are preparing list of huts that got damaged due to fire."
Disaster response teams were also deployed in the rescue operation. "There is darkness all over. At this point of time, we are taking the hut dwellers at a safe place. We will be able tell the cause of fire after inspection conducted by the fire department. No injuries have been reported as now," said Hakim.
According to locals in the area, around 6.30 pm there was a deafening sound and they saw fire coming out from one of the huts. They apprehended that bursting of a gas cylinder might have caused the fire. The fire quickly spread from one to another and the entire area was in flame. A huge amount of chemicals and other inflammable materials were kept inside the hut aggravated the situation. The fire came under control by 8 pm. The fire fighters had to use foam to douse the flame. A probe has been initiated. Most of the residents are daily labourers and there are some godowns to store used oil and chemicals. There are a couple of motor garages.
Fire tenders from Manicktala fire station which is situated close by reached the spot within 10 minutes. Later fire fighters from all the stations were deployed to put out the flame. Traffic movement along EM bypass was restored after 8.45 pm.