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Sikkim market fire caused by short circuit

Gangtok, Feb. 3: The fire which gutted 17 houses in Rhenock Bazaar in East Sikkim yesterday was caused by a short circuit in a tailorís shop and the chief minister gave ex-gratia to the injured persons and those whose houses were damaged.

Seven houses were partially damaged and four people were injured in the blaze yesterday. Rhenock is 88km from here.

ďWe carried out a detailed investigation to ascertain the cause of the blaze and found out that a short circuit in a tailorís shop had caused the fire. We submitted a report to the director general of police today,Ē said the deputy chief fire officer of Gangtok fire station, Prakash Rai.

Rai said there were some people in the nearby area that saw the fire coming out from the tailorís shop, which later spread to other buildings.

ďThe electricity wiring in the tailorís shop was old and worn out. There must have been a spark in the wire which easily spread,Ē Rai said.

He said the chief minister had announced that a fire station would be set up at Rhenock and the construction would start soon. Yesterday, five fire engines were called from Kalimpong, Gangtok, Pakyong and Singtam to control the blaze, which lasted for nearly six hours.

According to a senior fire station officer, there are nine fire stations in Sikkim. The fire stations are at Gangtok, Singtam, Rangpo and Pakyong (in East Sikkim), Rabong, Namchi, Jorethang (in South Sikkim) Geyzing (in West Sikkim) and in Mangan (North Sikkim).

Yesterday, chief minister Pawan Chamling handed over Rs 2 lakh each to those whose houses were completed gutted and Rs 1 lakh to those whose houses were partially damaged. Today also, he handed an ex gratia of Rs 50,000 each from the chief ministerís relief fund to 11 families whose houses were completely gutted and to the families of the seven houses that were partially damaged. Ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 each was also disbursed to the 18 tenants for losses suffered in the fire. The four persons who sustained minor injuries received an ex gratia of Rs 25,000 each.

Homeguard Jiwan Kumar Pradhan, who suffered injuries while removing the debris received an ex-gratia of Rs 50,000.