Two fires broke out on Monday, one in the south and the other in central Calcutta.
The blaze at Garia, on the southern fringes of the city, killed a man and left a few other people injured. Firemen said it started around one in the morning in shops and in a house near the local railway station.
Babu Ray, 30, was sleeping in one of the shops and was charred to death. Witnesses said some people, who tried to rescue him, sustained minor burns. They were given first-aid at a nearby health centre.
Three fire engines took more than three hours to bring the blaze under control. A complaint has been lodged by the traders at the Sonarpur police station.
“We are investigating whether it was a case of sabotage,” said additional superintendent of police (industrial) Rajesh Kumar Singh. Local people said the fire could have been the fallout of rivalry among gangs operating in the area. Police and firemen are trying to assess the extent of damage caused by the blaze.
In the other incident, a fire broke out in a commercial building on Clive Row on Monday. A godown, in which plastic flowers were stored atop the five-storeyed building at 6A, Clive Row, was completely destroyed. The fire broke out around 11 am.
Fire services officials said 10 engines took around one hour to put out the blaze. “There were no casualties. However, since the area is congested, the fire could have had devastating consequences,” a fire services official said.
Debaprasad Bhattacharjee, inspector in charge of Hare Street police station, said the owner of the godown, Ranjit Dutta, has been detained. Dutta’s office is also housed in the building.
The Calcutta Municipal Corporation has declared the building condemned. “The electric wires of the building are in a terrible shape,” a fireman said.