The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dunlop flare-up stalls raze drill
The remains of the Dunlop building on Free School Street destroyed in a fire on Friday. Picture by Pabitra Das

There was another brief burst of fire at Dunlop’s Free School Street marketing office building on Friday afternoon as the dying embers lit up some inflammables. Two fire tenders were pressed into service to put it out.

Fire Brigade director Baren Sen said water was sprinkled to smother the smoke and prevent fresh flare-ups. “We have stationed a fire tender on the spot for any eventuality,’’ Sen said. The fire service department has formed a team to probe the blaze. “We will look into every angle, including sabotage,’’ he added.

Sen said forensic scientists were in the building for two hours and collected samples for tests. Meanwhile, work on pulling down the sprawling five-storeyed building had to be deferred by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) after a forensic expert received burns while collecting samples.

“The entire building has to be razed as the fire has rendered it structurally weak and unsafe. We have kept our demolition squad on alert and it is awaiting clearance from the police,” said director-general (building) Ashok Roychaudhury.

According to him, the original construction plan of the building, recovered from the record room, shows it was constructed in 1932 as a four-storeyed structure. “About 30 truckloads of debris have so far been removed from the scene of the blaze,” assistant director (conservancy) Swapan Mahapatra said on Friday. CMC officers said they had summoned Dunlop officials, but no one showed up till Friday evening.

Senior officers of the fire services department inspected the building and informed CMC engineers that the building was in a dangerous condition

“There is every chance of chunks of cement and portions of the walls breaking off and falling on the road. We have requested the CMC and police for steps to avoid mishaps,” said a senior Fire Brigade officer, who visited the spot. Civic officers said they had begun efforts to remove the debris.

“Friday being a holiday, work progressed at a snail’s pace. We expect to start in full swing from Saturday,’’ said a CMC engineer present at the site.

Deputy commissioner of police (headquarters) K.L. Tamta said his officers spoke to former employees of Dunlop on Friday morning. “We are requesting the people to contact us if they have any information on the blaze,” Tamta said. The deputy commissioner said investigation is focussed on “sabotage and arson’’.

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