The Telegraph
Wednesday , December 9 , 2009
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fire guts 30 shanties

Thirty illegal shanties adjoining the rail tracks near New Alipore station were gutted and 30 others were damaged in a fire on Tuesday morning. Four fire engines took more than three hours to douse the flames.

Trains were disrupted in Eastern Railway’s Sealdah-Budge Budge section from 9.15am to 1pm because of the blaze. Services were stopped between Majherhat and Budge Budge as a precautionary measure. Trains, however, plied between Sealdah and Majherhat, said railway officials.

A candle or lantern in one of the Lockgate Road shanties probably sparked the blaze, according to firemen.

“The fire spread quickly because the shanties are situated close to one another and made of inflammable materials,” said Gopal Bhattacharjee, the director of West Bengal Fire & Emergency Services.

“I stepped out of my room to fetch water from an adjacent tap and saw some rooms which were closer to the railway tracks in flames. In no time, my room was also gutted. I somehow managed to raise an alarm and evacuate my wife and child,” said Shankar Sardar, who had been living in the shanty for 15 years.

The fire engines faced problems in reaching the slum, which has come up encroaching on railway land. “The narrow approach delayed us,” said one of the fire department supervisors.

Senior railway officials visited the spot in the afternoon.

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