The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Morning blaze guts 22 idols in Kumartuli

Twenty-two images of Durga, Kali and other goddesses were destroyed by a fire at Kumartuli on Friday morning. The idols were all but ready to be delivered to pandals in the city and districts for the Pujas this year.

The fire, at 8/1, Kumartuli Street, broke out at around 11 am at a chanachur factory, fire services officials said. Ten fire engines battled the blaze for nearly two hours. A fireman sustained injuries. “The area is congested, with godowns of plastic goods and bamboo and several motor garages. The fire could have spread but we were able to bring it under control,” said Bibhas Guha, divisional fire officer.

The chanachur factory, being a concrete building, did not suffer much damage. The idol-making unit, however, was gutted. The huge images of Durga, Kali, Lakshmi and others were partly or totally burnt. Workers of the unit stood around dumbfounded, struck by the sudden calamity.

“The idols were almost ready. We just had to put colours on them,” lamented Narayan Chandra Rudrapal, owner of Rakhal Chandra Rudrapal and Sons. “All the idols were ordered. I do not know how I will deliver these on time now,” he added.

Tragedy of another kind struck again on the same spot. Feluram Kaulay, driver of a fire engine, was off duty on Friday morning. When the blaze broke out, he was called on emergency duty. On reaching the spot, Kaulay got off his vehicle and while he was fixing the hosepipe with the watertank of his engine, it rolled off and rammed him against the wall.

Bystanders pushed the vehicle away and rushed him to RG Kar Medical College and Hospital on the ambulance of a local club. His condition is stated to be serious.

Residents said the fire was first noticed by workers of the chanachur factory. “There was a shout from within the factory and then we saw the fire,” said Debashish Bhattacharya, who lives close by. The workers of the factory have fled and the owner is absconding, police said.

An FIR has been lodged against the factory-owner at Shyampukur police station by the fire services department. “There was no fire-fighting equipment at the factory,” said divisional fire officer Guha. Forensic experts are probing the cause of the blaze. Local CPM councillor Kalyani Mitra, however, said the factory was almost 60 years and “running quite legally”.

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