A massive fire broke out at the Rani Jhansi shoe market in central Delhi’s Karol Bagh area in the early hours of Sunday. The Delhi Fire Service said 39 fire tenders were rushed to the spot and over 200 firefighters toiled for nearly five hours to douse the blaze. No one was seriously injured in the fire and the cooling operation is underway, officials said.
The cause of the fire is not known yet. “A serious fire call was received from a shoe market in Gaffar, Karol Bagh, at 4.16 am and 39 fire tenders were rushed to the site," Delhi Fire Service Director Atul Garg said.
He said none of the shops that caught fire had a no-objection certificate from the fire department. The fire department said shops in the shoe market are normally located on the ground floors of buildings while the upper floors are used as godowns.
“Lots of loose wires were hanging in the market which is dangerous and causes inconvenience too. There was a shortage of water resources to douse the fire. The construction of the building is weak, so the structures have already developed cracks," he added.
According to police, Rani Jhansi market houses wholesale footwear shops and six-seven of them were gutted in the fire. Local police reached the spot immediately and cordoned off the area. Electricity supply to the area was cut off, the officials said.
“Besides local police and Delhi Fire Services personnel, staff from CATS ambulance, Delhi Civil Defence, Delhi Disaster Management Authority and traffic police were present at the spot. The local police have been in touch with the MWA of the market to ensure that other shops remained closed. “DM Central and SDM Karol Bagh have also physically inspected the spot in the afternoon," Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Shweta Chauhan said.
According to the DFS, the fire has weakened the two buildings housing the affected shops. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi was informed about it, the DCP said.
A family of five people was stuck but have been rescued now and taken to safety, said Divisional fire officer SK Dua. “Some internal fire is still blazing. Around 15-16 shops were affected. Parts of buildings on fire fell off, creating issues in dousing the fire. At least 200 firemen continue to work," he added.
‘Fire Could Have Been Controlled Sooner…’
Traders with shops at Rani Jhansi market, which saw many shops gutting in an early Sunday morning fire, claim that the blaze could have been controlled much faster if it had broken out during the day. Dharampal Arora, the president of Rani Jhansi market, claimed that all shopkeepers in the area stock fire extinguishing equipment, but the fire broke out in the early morning when it was close, and that made all the difference.
The fire was first spotted by a security guard at the market, who informed the traders’ association president about the incident. Our guard, Kamal Dev, saw the fire first and informed us about it around 4.15 am. We called the fire department and the police and immediately reached the market at 4.30 am, Arora said.
The fire had spread wide when we reached here, but the fire officials brought it under control. I also have a footwear shop here and, luckily, it is safe, he said. Arora said that all shopkeepers in his market keep the fire fighting equipment and they had a chance to use them recently when they were faced with a minor fire. “Recently, a minor fire broke out in the electricity metre which was controlled by the shopkeepers as everyone has fire fighting equipment, he said.
(With PTI inputs)