Firemen at the Karnani Mansion. (Pabitra Das)
Calcutta, June 16: Five people, including two children, were trapped for around half an hour inside a five-storey building in Beckbagan where a fire broke out this morning.
Thick smoke engulfed rooms and stairs at the 72-year-old Karnani Mansion, sparking panic among residents.
The fire brigade used ladders to bring trapped residents down from two second-floor apartments in the building, which also houses offices.
The two families live in flats opposite the office of S-Cube Consultancy Services, where the fire is suspected to have begun. Fire officials said the 6am fire may have been caused by a short circuit.
“I heard shrieks and opened the door, and had smoke flooding into my nose and mouth,” said Rosalind Khanna, 74, who lives on the second floor.
Each floor has 20 flats on either side of the corridor.
The residents said some of the apartments had caught fire earlier too and blamed the employees of the offices.
“We repeatedly request the employees to turn off the main switch before leaving but they don’t. Most of the offices have not increased their power load capacity though they have installed new computers,” Khanna complained.
The residents said the building owner and the court-appointed officer in charge of overseeing fire safety tended to pass the buck to each other whenever they complained.
A fire brigade officer too said the building lacked fire-fighting arrangements.