Major fire paralyses Trade Centre

13 water tenders, 90 personnel douse fire in 3 hours; 6 hurt, over 70 rescued

Curious: A large number of people gathered to look at the fire which broke out in Trade Centre in Jyothi Circle on Wednesday. DH photo

Fire Officials successfully evacuated the building and rescued over 70 people who were stranded in the smoke clogged building. About 6 fire officials were injured during the operations. Property worth over Rs 50 lakhs is said to have been damaged in the incident.

Background
The fire set ablaze in a go-down belonging to J P Lights and appliances on the third floor of the building, suspected to be due to short circuit at about 10.55 am. The fire went wild as the lighting equipment kept in the go-down were wrapped using straws, paper and cardboard.

People were panic struck seeing the thick smoke surging in and engulfing the building.

They started running helter-skelter. While some had found their exit way many ran up to the open terrace. Several remained confined to the office and peeped out of the window, gasping for air.

Receiving the intimation, Fire officials took position outside the building at about 11.10 am and started the operations to put off the fire and evacuate the building. About 90 fire personnel, 13 water tenders, three fire vehicles along with one advanced rescue van were at the spot to handle the situation. The fire officials reached out to the victims in the building using ropes as the ladders they had could only reach to a certain height.

The rescue operation lasted for over 3 hours and all the victims stranded in the building were rescued unscathed.

Officials injured
Shekar Kottari, a fire personnel who took part in the rescue operation was admitted to KMC hospital due to breathing problem. B Shekar, Naveen, Ramesh, Hiriyanna and Mallesh were injured while breaking glasses on the building.

Hurdles
Addressing the reporters after the completion of the operation, Chief Fire Officer H S Varadarajan said that it was indeed a difficult operation as the said building had no fire safety system in place at all.

Varadarajan also said that somebody had spread the rumour that the Carbon monoxide has been formed in the building and anyone who inhales carbon monoxide will die. Hence many people refused to get out of the building by lift, when the fire officials approached them. He said that toilets in most of the floors have been damaged. Paper documents of some of the firms functioning in the building are said to be damaged. The electrical commodities in the go-down has been completely reduced to ashes.

However, the documents of the Excise Department which is functioning in the same building are safe.

Traffic chaos
As the Jyothi - Bunts Hostel road was closed for traffic following the fire mishap, the traffic came to a grinding halt on Balmatta - Bendoor road and on Arya Samaj Road.

“It took me nearly one hour to reach from Jyothi to Mallikatta,” said a citizen who wanted to reach a hospital in Mallikatta.

The closure of some of the roads including Bendoor - Bendoorwell, Falnir road and Karangalpady added to the chaos, he added.

Are we ready to face the fire mishaps?
The civil society groups have been time and again warning the district administration to be pro-active with regard to implementation of National Building Code. But this plea has always fallen on deaf ears. The fire mishap of Wednesday has shown how safe Mangalore city is when a fire mishap of this kind breaks out.

The incident was a pre cursor to a larger mishap that can happen in the city where most buildings have been built violating the code.

The said building does not possess a fire NOC. It had no fire safety system in place and this was certified by Chief Fire Officer himself. Further, the parking space of the building was so congested that the fire vehicles and ambulance could not move in the region, due to which traffic were blocked from Jyothi to Bunts Hostel.

The Fire officials have been demanding for a skylift ladder for a long time now and their demand has been falling on deaf ears. The shortcomings of the department were obvious as officials had to literally risk their life and climb the building using rope as the ladder they had was of no use. While the operations were going on, fire personnel from MRPL had to be summoned because the company has a fire disaster management unit equipped with modern equipment.

Despite various problems, the people who gathered outside opined that fire officials had done a sincere and a commendable job but it is time district administration learnt a lesson from the incident.

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