Calcutta, Nov. 11: A straw-laden boat caught fire on the banks of Baghbazar ghat this evening and drifted for over an hour before finally hitting a ship at the Hooghly dock.
Despite a nagging drizzle, hundreds of onlookers gathered on both sides of the river to catch a glimpse of the burning boat. No casualties have been reported.
The incident occurred around 7.30 pm and the boat was burning even at 10.30 pm. It is believed that the boat caught fire from a floating pradip (lamp) immersed for chhatpuja.
Fire brigade personnel were spraying water on the boat from the ship. “We are concentrating more on the safety of the ship. If the fire spreads to the ship it would be disastrous. So far as the boat is concerned it is ruined,” a fire brigade spokesperson said.
Six fire tenders have been pressed into service. The river traffic police are guarding the area.
According to official sources the boat, carrying straw, from Sundarban area arrived at Bagbazar jetty. Even though there was no confirmation it is believed that the boat might have caught fire from a floating pradeep (lamp). The devotees of chhatpuja burning lamps on in the evening during this festival.
Abbhuday Bhattacharya, an engineering student, who was present at Bagbazar when the boat caught, said all the three fire tenders which arrived there came to little help and the boat, with its rope of the anchor torn, had drifted far away by the heavy current. Swapan Majumdar, a worker of a launch which shuttles between Nimtala and Howarh ferry ghat said that their launch had to be diverted as the boat was waddling across the river.
"It was a tough time controlling curious commuters who almost leaned on the railings of the launch to have a look at the rare sight. I am in this profession for so many years. But never in my life I witnessed such a sight. I wish I had a camera," said Majumdar. The sareng of the launch echoed him and said "I was overwhelmed at the sight."