Guwahati, Oct. 15: Nearly 15 workers of a pantry car on the Dibrugarh-New Delhi Rajdhani Express had a narrow escape after one of them detected smoke in the coach, around 200 metres from Dharamtul station in Nagaon district and 75km from here, around 4.15 this morning.
The worker raised an alarm, waking Krishna Mishra, manager of the pantry car, and other workers. The train, which had left Dibrugarh at 7.20 last evening with around 1,000 passengers, had already travelled around 400km by then.
“They (pantry staff) acted quickly and broke the glass. They used fire extinguishers from the pantry car and other coaches but the blaze spread so fast that we could do little,” Mishra told this correspondent soon after the train reached Guwahati railway station around 11 this morning.
The pantry staff immediately informed the on-board guard, who stopped the train near Dharamtul station. By this time, however, the fire, which was reportedly triggered by a short circuit, had completely gutted the pantry car.
After the train was stopped, technician Ram Kishan, 55, detached the pantry car, the third compartment from the engine, from other coaches to prevent the fire from spreading. The pantry car was dragged around 50 metres before it was detached from the engine and the passenger coach. “We left the burning pantry car in the middle and were relieved to see two fire tenders from the nearby fire station reaching the spot within 20 minutes. They doused the flames in half-an-hour,” a relieved Kishan said at Guwahati station around 11.45am.
“I was a bit nervous as the pantry car was between two passenger coaches. The situation could have been worse had the pantry staff detected the fire a little later,” he added.
“The passengers had all got down with their luggage immediately after the train was stopped. When the fire was doused, we realigned the coaches around 7am and started the journey after technical checks,” said the New Delhi-based technician who was on duty in the train.
Although no passengers or pantry staff were injured, the incident left them shocked. “I was sleeping and got to know about the fire after the train stopped. We all got down immediately and saw the pantry car burning. About 30 minutes later, the fire tenders came and we were relieved to know there was no casualty,” said Paban Lohia, a businessman who boarded the train at Tinsukia, about 460km from here. Lohia was two coaches away from the pantry car.
Sanjoy Sharma, a software engineer working in New Delhi, said, “I woke up a little later and when I got down, the pantry car had been detached.” Sharma had boarded the train at Dimapur in Nagaland, about 200km from here.
Sugato Lahiri, NF Railway chief public relations officer, said the train resumed its journey from Guwahati around noon. “An inquiry has been ordered although a short circuit is suspected to have caused the fire.” The incident caused a six-hour delay.
There was, however, no effect on supply of food to passengers since there was another pantry car.