KOCHI: Panic gripped Kochi as a massive fire broke out in a six-storey building of Paragon office-cum-godown at Kalath-iparambu road near the south railway station here on Wednesday.
The fire was doused after over six hours with the help of 45 fire engines. No casualties were reported as the employees, who were inside the godown, got out seeing the fire.
Over 278 Fire Force personnel from 34 stations, including Thrissur, Kottayam and Alappuzha with 45 fire engines and foam tenders, fought for six hours to douse the fire. As per preliminary assessment, the loss is pegged around `10 crore.
The cause of the fire is said to be a short circuit at the rear end of the first floor where 3,000 pairs of footwear products were displayed.
The flames were first noticed at 11 am. At least 28 employees, including a woman sweeper, were inside the building and they all ran out when the smoke billowed out.
The fire soon engulfed the whole building as the site was not easily accessible for fire engines. It took 20-25 minutes for the first fire engine about 4 kilometres away to reach the spot as both sides of narrow Kalathiparambu road had been blocked the entrance from the railway station road to facilitate metro construction work and the other end to facilitate canal construction. “The arrival of the engines at the spot was delayed for a few more minutes because of this. Otherwise, the fire wouldn’t have spread to the other floors and the dousing would have been easier,” an eyewitness said.
Besides, there were no windows, except on the top two storeys, as the concrete building was covered with aluminium sheets. Removing the sheets to make way for the water and foam to reach the spot was a tough challenge for the firefighters.
A.C. Kuruvila, one of the 28 employees, said that they all got out at the right time. “I was working in the packaging section on the fifth floor. I heard my colleagues screaming and we immediately ran out of the building. Since the fire erupted at the backside of the first floor, we managed to escape. If the same was somewhere in the centre, we would have got trapped,” he said.
District collector Mohammed Y. Safirulla said the fire had been totally contained. “There are no injuries or loss of lives and the people in the nearby building were evacuated,” he said. Most of the products inside were rubber-based, he said.
Senior officials, including DCP J. Himendranath and other officers, rushed to the spot and reviewed the situation. Mr Hibi Eden MLA, Mr P. T. Thomas MLA and Mayor Soumini Jain also visited the place....