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Koilaghat fire: Amid ashes, signs of struggle remain

Koilaghat fire: Amid ashes, signs of struggle remain
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Kolkata: A nightmarish night settled for a heart wrenching Tuesday morning at the New Koilaghat Building. A blazing inferno had extinguished the flames of hope and aspiration. It engulfed everything except for the signs of struggle for survival—scratches and dent inside the fatal elevator—leaving a pall of gloom back home. When the forensic team visited the building on Tuesday morning, they spotted those marks.

The fierce fire sucked away the lives of nine, including four firemen, a policeman, a Railway Protection Force (RPF) jawan and a railway official. Putting their lives at risk, the deceased firefighters and an ASI of Kolkata police had swung into action to rescue anyone trapped inside the building. Their bodies were recovered from the lift they took to reach the burning 13th floor. But, then destiny played the villain.

When the hearse carrying the body of ASI Amit Bhawal, who was posted at Hare Street police station, reached his residence at Baguiati on Tuesday evening, grief gripped the entire area. He also received a gun salute at Lalbazar in the presence of his wife and 10-year-old son. Bhawal's colleagues recounted several memories of his bravery when he led from the front in case of any disaster or rescue operations.

The 29-year-old firefighter Aniruddha Jana, who was also in the lift, died on Monday. Jana joined the West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services around seven years back. He was awarded for his bravery during the rescue operation after Vivekananda Road flyover collapsed in Posta. State Fire minister Sujit Bose visited his house and expressed his condolence to his father Mohonlal Jana, who is still in a state of shock.

Girish Dey (40), an experienced firefighter, was posted at the Lalbazar fire station. His colleagues recounted that Dey was not only experienced but also was trained in advanced equipment. His suggestions were found to be useful in the past. This apart, another youth identified as Biman Purkait (24), who had joined as fire fighter a few years ago, also died.

While fire fighters and Bhawal died trying to rescue the people trapped, Partha Sarathi Mondal (59) the Deputy Chief Commercial Manager of the Eastern Railway rushed to the 13th floor of New Koilaghata building after hearing a few people screaming. He fainted after inhaling the toxic smoke. Mondal, a resident of Baranagar, was scheduled to retire after a year.

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