A major fire broke out at a slum in Kolkata's Bagbazar area on Wednesday evening, officials said. At least 24 fire tenders were pressed into service as the blaze engulfed several houses in the slum on Kshirode Vidyavinode Avenue beside the Bagbazar Women's College near the Chitpore Lock Gate Bridge, they said.
Blasts were heard in the slum which police suspect to be of gas cylinders at the houses on fire, officials said. There were no reports of any casualty as most of the people were evacuated on time, they said.
The blaze also spread to the adjacent Sarada Mayer Bari as the firefighters escorted the saints out, an officer of the fire department said. "The reason for the fire is not yet known. The firemen are fighting it tooth and nail and hopefully, it will soon be under control. We have emptied the entire area. There were several blasts, which could be because of the gas cylinders," a senior officer of the Kolkata Police said.
Locals alleged that firefighters reached the spot at least an hour late, because of which the blaze went out of control. A couple of police vehicles were vandalised, following which a team of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) was deployed to control the irate mob, the officer said.
Traffic movement on the Kshirode Vidyavinode Avenue as well as the Chitpore Lock Gate Bridge, the lifeline of the people living in the northern fringes of the city, was totally stopped, he said. "We have also snapped electricity supply in the entire area. There are at least 40 families whose houses have been gutted in the fire. A godown of books is also gutted," the police officer said.