Thiruvananthapuram: A major fire broke out in a shop near Pazhavangadi - the densely populated commercial area of the state capital, triggering huge panic in the area on Tuesday morning.
The incident occurred around 9 am and smoke started billowing from the two-storey Chellam Umbrella Mart building near Over Bridge. Around four shops and a house were gutted in the fire and the loss was estimated to be around Rs 1 crore.
As any as 24 fire fighting vehicles were pressed into service to put out the fire. Over 140 fire officials swung into action soon after a call came to the emergency number of fire department. It took around three to four hours for the fire-fighters to bring the situation under control. Fire fighting vehicles were mobilized from different fire stations for the gigantic exercise.The fire fighting vehicle - 'Panther' - with five crew members, was brought from the airport for the operation. While the reason for the fire is yet to be ascertained, a section of officials said it could be short circuit as there was a burnt generator in the godown.
"A detailed probe would be initiated to find out the reason behind the fire. It's illegal to have godowns in busy urban centres," said Kerala Fire and Rescue Services Director General A Hemachandran.
According to officials, the fire started in the illegal godown facility behind the shop, which deals in bags and umbrellas. Around 11 firemen were injured in the incident. District Fire Officer Abdul Rasheed said that creating access to the building was a strenuous job because of the congested lanes. "The godown which caught fire was made of roofing sheets and it was surrounded by concrete structures including seven houses and 17 small shops . We made two access points from the shop building and three other points were created to reach the spot and prevent the fire from spreading further," said Mr Abdul Rasheed.
He said that there was no proper ventilation in the gowdown. "Many got injured while trying to reach the structure which was fully covered with just one entry point. When we opened the door flames leaped out of the structure injuring some of our officials. Some of them had to take treatment for breathing issue because of the fumes....