Two devastating fires, one early on Sunday on the southern fringes and the other a few hours later in Barasat, towards the north of the city, left three dead and 13 injured. Two of the killed were children.
In the first incident, a fire broke out inside a market at Survey Park, in the Purba Jadavpur area, South 24-Parganas, around 2.40 am. Residents rushed out of their houses near the market and the fire brigade was alerted. Fire-fighters reached the spot a little after 3 am.
“The fire was spreading rapidly, and we had a tough task trying to control it. We had to remove a lot of combustibles from near the site,” a fire brigade official said. After battling for an hour and a half, the flames were doused and the charred body of 14-year-old Biswajit Das, who was sleeping inside a small tea-stall in the market, recovered. Another body of a 65-year-old eatery employee, identified as Nibaran, was also brought out.
A small eatery was gutted and a few shanties were destroyed. Police said the fire started from an oil lamp kept inside the eatery. “I heard someone crying out for help and raised an alarm,” said Sumati Mondol, an eyewitness.
Seven hours later, a massive fire broke out in a godown-cum-factory in Barasat, leaving one dead and at least 13 injured, five seriously. Additional superintendent of police Rahul Srivastava said the godown belonged to a thinner-manufacturing company and the fire broke out while unloading the highly-combustible substance from a 10,000-litre tanker.
Eyewitnesses said parts of the tanker were blown high into the air after a huge explosion. The impact of the blast also blew away a few coconut trees around the factory. The containers inside the godown started exploding in rapid succession. A seven-year-old girl, whose identity could not be ascertained, was standing next to the tanker when it exploded, and died almost instantly. The fire spread rapidly, sending people scurrying for safety. A cycle-parts shop was also gutted.
At least 13 persons, including three fire-fighters, were rushed to Barasat Hospital, where the condition of five was declared serious. They were shifted to RG Kar Medical College and Hospital.
Among the injured, five-year-old Md. Suraj, 28-year-old Akbari Bibi and Yasmin Khatoon, 22, were still battling for life. “The fire was brought under control after a few hours, but we are yet to ascertain the cause,” a fire official said. A police picket has been posted on the spot.