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Fire at Lalbazar meter box

A fire broke out in an electrical meter box in the main building of the Calcutta police headquarters at Lalbazar on Thursday afternoon. The fumes left a constable ill.

Sources said the fire could have triggered a disaster as the meter box on the ground floor was close to the VIP lift.

“Fortunately the lift was not in use at that time and no one got trapped or injured. A constable who was exposed to the fumes while dousing the flames with a fire extinguisher fell ill. He has been admitted to hospital,” said a police officer.

The first floor of the main building houses the office of police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha and other senior officers.

The top cop as well as the other officers were in their offices when the fire broke out around 1.30pm.

Three fire engines rushed to the spot and doused the flames within 30 minutes.

“It was a small fire. Initially, some smoke was detected in the meter box. When we arrived there was fire,” said a divisional officer of the fire department.

According to fire department officials, the police headquarters lacked basic firefighting preparedness.

“The entire vacant space on the ground floor has been taken over by parked vehicles. So there was little space to manoeuvre the fire tenders. A lot of old furniture was dumped near the exit gate. The corridors in the other buildings in the compound are very narrow and choked with furniture and files,” said a senior fire department officer.

The condition of the detective department building is the worst, he said.

The police, however, said the headquarters were equipped to fight small fires on their own.