Fire destroys City's oldest market

A raging fire engulfed Russel Market, the City’s oldest and one of Cantonment’s largest surviving showpieces, on Saturday morning leaving a trail of destruction.

A view of the fire-ravaged Russel Market at Shivajinagar in Bangalore on Saturday.  DH Photo/ S K Dinesh

At the end of the four-hour ordeal by fire, 173 shops stocked with fruits, vegetables and toys were destroyed, with the losses running into crores. While there were no casualties or injuries, the blaze severely damaged the 85-year-old market’s edifice.

Built by the British in 1927, the market had survived the last eight decades. But all that changed at 3:30 am on Saturday. A suspected short circuit triggered the fire that raged through a part of the building the next four hours badly damaging shops on the northern side, both on the ground and first floors. The BBMP office located on the first floor was spared. The adjoining shops and the wholesale outlets just opposite the office were charred beyond recognition.

Fire department officials said the fire could have been caused by a short circuit. The electrical meter boards placed at the entrance of the northern end on each row of the market were burnt. Speculation was rife about a “political” link to the fire. However, the police and traders brushed aside the allegations.

The Shivajinagar police said the fire personnel had to struggle for nearly four and a half hours to douse the flames. “Heaps of plastic, wood and ot­h­er waste materials and toys and fancy articles dumped in the shops also caught fire, spreading the flames fast,” a police official said. “Except for a few hours, the market is open day and night. Hundreds of workers and daily wage labourers sleep in the market. As they were all alerted in time, they were able to run to safety. No one was injured,” he added.

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