Thiruvananthapuram: Hundreds were seen thronging the area to watch the effort of the fire officials to douse the fire at the Chellam Umbrella Mart on Tuesday. People were seen lined up on the over-bridge near Power House to get a clear view of the incident. Police officials had a hard time controlling the crowd. However, those residing in the adjoining lane of the shop which caught were seen worried.
Panic-stricken Geetha Kumari A, who has been living in a small house in the Amman Kovil Lane adjoining to the Chellam Umbrella Mart for the past 22 years, says nothing like this ever happened in the area. “We smelled smoke from morning around 7 am and the worker in the godown normally burns the garbage in the morning most of the days. We mistook it for that. By 9 am things went out of control and fire vehicles arrived. We were asked to move out of the house. We have no other place to go,” laments Geetha Kumari.
Sumathi S, another resident, says that earlier many residents used to be there. “Now there are only seven houses and all others left because of heavy commercialisation of the area. The houses were converted into shops and now only a few of us are here. Most of the residents are elderly and it’s hard for them to escape if the fire spreads,” says Sumathi.
B Ravindran Nair, who has a lottery shop on the opposite side, said that at first three fire-fighting vehicles came and later more vehicles arrived at the scene. “I am running a lottery stall for the past 32 years here and have never witnessed anything like this. The officers are risking their lives to stop the fire,” he said.