Proximity to the Hooghly saved a more-than-six-decade-old warehouse of Calcutta Port Trust at Posta from being gutted by leaping flames that threatened to lash the Howrah bridge early on Thursday.
Uninterrupted supply of water from the river ensured that the fire was brought under control in five hours. “We got enough water from the river. Since the area is a business hub, it is packed with goods vehicles, leaving little space for other vehicles to move. The restricted movement of fire engines could have hampered the operation,” said Gopal Bhattacharjee, the additional director general of the West Bengal Fire and Emergency Services. Twenty-four engines used three pumps to draw water from the Hooghly.
Labourers noticed flames on the ground floor of the warehouse around 8am. Nobody was injured but the ground floor, stocked with inflammable articles such as enamel paint, saris, tyre tubes, rolls of plastic sheets, PVC pipes, paper cartons and polythene sheets, was gutted.
Sandwiched between Circular Railway tracks and Jagannath Ghat, the warehouse serves as a hub for Burrabazar-bound goods from various cities.
“My consignment of saris arrived from Ahmedabad on Saturday. I shifted 25 per cent of the stock to my shop at Girish Park on Wednesday. Nothing is left of the rest,” said Ashok Jhajharia.
A port trust official said the warehouse had been leased to Central Inland Water Transport Corporation, which allegedly refused to vacate the premises even after the lease expired in 2008. The matter is now sub judice.
Around 70 per cent of the warehouse was occupied by Inland Road Transport and the rest by Hindustan Unilever.
“Since no fire safety measures were in place, we will lodge an FIR against the occupants,” Tapan Ghosh, the acting director of the fire department said. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.