Eight shops perish in blaze

Jaswinder Singh Baidwan

Akhran da mureed
Staff member

Eight shops were reduced to ashes in a fire that broke out in the furniture market on the road dividing Sectors 53 and 54 here today. The shops that were burnt were located on the Sector 54 side of the road. However, no casualty was reported in the fire, which was controlled by 12 fire tenders after a firefighting operation that lasted over two hours.
This is the eighth fire incident in the market in the past 10 years. The Fire and Emergency Department of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation received a call at 9.38 pm about the fire incident in the market. Ten fire tenders from Chandigarh and two from Mohali were rushed to the spot. The police blocked the entry to the road dividing Sectors 53 and 54 by putting up barricades on the Sector 42 roundabout towards Mohali.
The fire was controlled around 11.45 pm. Six trees were also damaged in the fire. The presence of highly inflammable material such as varnish, thinner and foam inside shops made firefighting difficult.
Eyewitnesses said tin sheds separating shops prevented the fire from spreading to other shops. A fire official present at the spot said the reason behind the fire was yet to be ascertained, but it appeared that it started from one of the shops where mattresses were stocked.
Shopkeepers in tears
Owners whose shops were gutted in the fire and their family members were in tears. Ramesh, a relative of a shopkeeper, said stock worth lakhs was stocked as the festival season was around the corner. Shopkeepers said some of the shops were not even insured. The shops which were damaged badly were Gurmeet Wood and Furniture, Anwar Khan Furniture, Shakti Furniture and JP Aggarwal Furniture.
Ill-equipped firefighters
In the absence of gas cutters, the firefighters were seen pushing the ladder to break the tin shed entries of the damaged shops. The firefighters were without face masks. In the name of safety gear, all they had were leather boots, helmets and handkerchiefs to cover their faces.
Shopkeepers blame Administration
Shopkeepers claimed that a survey to shift the shops was done in 2009, but there was no progress ever since. The traders claimed that the then UT administrators, OP Verma in 2004 and Gen SF Rodrigues (retd) in 2009, had assured to allot them land, but nothing was done.