The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Water, heat thwart mall blaze probe

The euphoria of the shopowners of Satyanarayan Park AC Market was replaced by anxiety on Friday afternoon, after firemen found that a number of shops in the lower basement had been badly damaged by Tuesday’s fire. “We will be able to assess the extent of damage after the water is pumped out,” said Baren Sen, director of fire services.

According to fire officials, the shops on the upper basement were “apparently undamaged.” However, in the lower basement, “the iron shutters of some shops have melted. But it will be difficult to assess the damage before investigations are made,” they added. Forensic experts, bomb squad and fire services officials conducted a joint investigation on Friday afternoon but were unable to complete the probe because of a “hostile situation” inside the market. “The air-conditioners are not working and it is suffocating underground. Also, the lower basement is waterlogged, with at least six inches of water on the floor. So, the probe team has decided to return tomorrow,” a fire official said. All the corridors of the lower basement are blocked by the ceilings that have caved in. The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) men are continuing to pump out the water from the basement.

The shopowners are waiting for the official nod to be allowed inside. However, forensic officials have sealed the market and nobody, except for the priests of the market temple, is allowed inside. Pravin Agarwal, member of the market coordination committee, said an assistance booth would be set up for shopowners by Friday night.

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