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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Chandni Chowk fire: Losses likely to be in crores, traders say everything reduced to ashes

Over 50 shops were gutted in a fire that required 50 fire tenders and 200 on-the-ground personnel to be brought under control after a 12-hour effort

PTI New Delhi Published 14.06.24, 04:58 PM
Firefighters and others stand near damaged shops after a fire broke out at Chandni Chowk

Firefighters and others stand near damaged shops after a fire broke out at Chandni Chowk PTI

"Everything has turned to ashes — dreams, the shop and all its goods," said a trader whose shop was destroyed in the massive blaze in Delhi's Chandni Chowk that even brought down two buildings in the area.

His was among over 50 shops that were gutted in a fire that required 50 fire tenders and 200 on-the-ground personnel to be brought under control after a 12-hour effort.

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The number of shops that were damaged by the fire could still go up and the losses made by the traders could be in crores.

The fire broke out in Chandni Chowk's Old Katra Marwadi Market on Thursday evening. There were no casualties.

It was 4.15 pm on Thursday when Narendra, 60, was having a regular call with one of his customers when he heard screaming.

"People were shouting about a fire. We already knew that our shop was in a narrow place. I immediately asked everyone in the shop to evacuate. Within a few minutes, everything was reduced to ash," he said.

The shops that were gutted sold sarees, dupattas and other combustible items, according to officials.

Delhi Fire Services chief Atul Garg said two buildings housing multiple shops, including the one where the fire started, collapsed due to the blaze.

Deepak Mahendru, president of Nai Sadak Traders Association, said that police and fire brigade teams are still keeping traders away from their shops as more buildings could still collapse.

"So far, I got to know that more than 50 shops are gutted causing a loss of Rs 70 to 80 crores of products only," Mahendru said.

"The fire started from shop number 1580 or 1581, and within no time it engulfed the entire area. Fortunately, no one received any injuries, else it could have been drastic," he added.

Police have not allowed the shopkeepers to enter their shops as the fire department continues its operation. So a total estimate of the losses incurred has not been made by the traders.

According to the fire department, the fire erupted from a shop due to a short circuit in an air conditioner (AC) which spread to other shops. Due to the intensity of the fire, two buildings collapsed.

Another shopkeeper Jaspreet Singh (51) said, "My priority was to save my workers and customers. I asked them to evacuate the shop as quickly as possible. I was the last person to leave. After ensuring that no one was left behind, somehow I closed the shutter which was already hot and ran away." He added that his shop was the only source of earning for him.

"We stood there with tears in our eyes and were thinking about how will we manage back in our house after this. Though there is insurance, but that takes many days to clear," Singh said.

DFS officials said firefighters had to face several challenges in the operation. "Due to the (narrow) lanes, we had to extend our fire hose for more than 300 metres and had to add extra pressure," an official said.

The fire department also had to use water bowsers and robots to douse the flames.

The official further said that there were no water sources nearby which added to the problem of refilling the water tanks.

He said, "The shops had combustible material which only needs a small spark." Dangling power lines in the area was also a challenge for the firefighters, the official added.

The fire was brought under control at 4.30 am on Friday, which was followed by a cooling operation at the spot with the help of eight fire tenders.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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