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Fire at JU store

A fire broke out on Sunday morning in the central godown of Jadavpur University which was stocked with inflammables like kerosene, phenyl and acid.

Two tenders doused the flames before they could spread to adjoining areas.

University officials said the fire, possibly caused by a short-circuit, broke out around 7am.

The central godown, located close to gate No. 3, right next to the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers, is spread over 2,000sq ft.

“The fire broke out in the front enclosure where paper and files were stocked. We are lucky that it did not spread to the rear portion, where kerosene, phenyl and acid were stored in jerrycans. Had the fire spread to the rear part, the entire store would have blown up,” said a university official.

“Surplus lubricant and chemical items used in engineering machines and science labs are stored in the godown,” said interim vice-chancellor Abhijit Chakrabarti.

Officers from Patuli fire station said the store did not have any fire alarm, sprinkler or fire extinguisher.

“The water bodies on the campus provide ready access to water but since the store had combustible items, it should have had basic fire-fighting preparedness,” said an officer of the fire station.

Chakrabarti admitted to the lapses. “The godown will be shifted to the university’s National Instrument Limited campus, opposite the main campus,” he said.

Following a fire department directive to all educational institutions to install fire-safety measures, JU started talks with the department for setting up a small fire station on the campus.

But nothing has come of the initiative yet.

“Sunday’s incident shows why we need a fire station on the campus,” the interim VC said.

A fire at the erstwhile Presidency College on October 29, 2010, had gutted two chemistry laboratories. Priceless research papers, expensive equipment and years of painstaking work had gone up in smoke.

The two laboratories did not have any fire-safety measure, a revelation that prompted the fire services department to alert all the institutes to install the facilities.