7-Story Firetrap Built Illegally
IN WHAT HAS BEEN AN ALL-TOO common occurence, and illegally constructed retail building in Kolkata, India, burned Wednesday morning killing at least 20 people who lived in the shops.
The seven-story building housed hundreds of shops that are typically occupied at night by shop workers, laborers and ricksha pullers. At night the building is locked up by the owner to prevent burglaries and secured with iron grills over the windows and iron gates in the entrances.
The Hindu / pti
When the fire broke out just before 4 am the 26 fire engines responding were delayed by the crowded and narrow street and then further hindered by the security bars over the windows.
The staircase of the market complex was blocked with goods, making it difficult for the people to escape the inferno, Vice-Chairman of the market, Sushanta Ghose said.
According to fire officials, plastics, paper and cloth were stored in the godowns. The ground and the first floors of the complex, which sustained the maximum damage, housed 200 shops.
When 63-year-old Nandakishore Agarwal rushed to his shop at dawn on Wednesday, he found it completely gutted. Agarwal also has two other shops in the same six-storey "illegal" market complex.
Ghose said there was only one proper entry and exit route into the complex. Though there was one emergency exit, it had not been used for the last 15 years, he said.
Business Line photo
The fire was brought under control by 10 am. The cause has not been determined.
IBN-TV has some fire footage in this video report:
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