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Specimens lost in college fire

Rare botanical specimens were gutted in a fire on a first-floor laboratory of Scottish Church College while an exhibition was under way on the ground floor on Sunday afternoon.

A fire department official said the blaze could have originated from a refrigerator in the laboratory of the botany department. Two tenders took 30 minutes to douse the flames.

A teacher said the fire had claimed different types of algae, bryophytes, pteridophytes and gymnosperms. “The market value of the specimens may run into lakhs. Most are not easily available and many had been brought from the Andamans.”

Around a fortnight ago, several students in the chemistry laboratory of St. Joseph’s College in Bowbazar had a narrow escape when a gas cylinder exploded.

Many people, including students, had assembled on the ground floor of Scottish Church College for the exhibition when the fire broke out. “Everyone was safe as the laboratory was on the first floor,” said consumer affairs minister Sadhan Pande, who was at the exhibition when the fire broke out.