Five persons were injured and 200 shops gutted in two fires that broke out on the southern fringes of the city on Monday.
In the first blaze, a tyre of a gas tanker caught fire during filling operations at the Indian Oil Corporations (IOC) LPG-bottling plant near Natun Pole, in the Budge Budge area, at about 7 am. There were five such tankers on the premises when the fire broke out. Luckily, there were no explosions. At 8.45 am, when we were informed of the fire, eight engines rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control, said fire brigade sources in Behala.
Superintendent of police (South 24-Parganas) Deb Kumar Ganguly and other senior officers, too, rushed to the spot. Later, the police and the IOC authorities cordoned off the area for security reasons.
Meanwhile, one of the tankers being driven out of the plant overturned and blocked traffic for some time. Additional superintendent of police (industrial) Rajesh Kumar Singh said: The situation could have taken a serious turn if the blaze was not doused in time. Gas was reportedly leaking from one of the tankers. That could have fanned the blaze.
Five persons, engaged in loading and unloading gas cylinders on the premises, suffered burns. They were taken to M.R. Bangur Hospital, in Tollygunge, for treatment. Fire services director Baren Sen said: The fire was initially controlled by the IOC authorities, but our men did a commendable job in tackling the situation.
Another fire broke out in a Garia market at about 2.40 am. Around 200 shops were gutted. Eight fire-engines fought for about four hours to douse the flames. Shop-owners alleged that the fire spread due to the late arrival of the fire-engines. Initially, residents of the area and shop-owners tried to fight the flames with water and sand, but their efforts proved futile.
Fire brigade sources, however, claimed their engines reached the spot on time. Sources said the fire might have been caused by crackers, stocked in a nearby shop, going off, or a short-circuit. There were no reports of casualties.