Cassian Baliarsingh

After battling day and night for 36 hours, firefighters have finally extinguished the massive blaze at Laxmi Market Complex that reduced more than 42 shops to ashes in the pilgrim town of Puri. Fortunately, there have been no reports of any casualties as over 200 people including 150 tourists and 50 people present at the market complex were rescued unhurt.

The district administration under the chairmanship of Puri Sub-Collector formed a committee that would ascertain the cause of the massive blaze and assess losses caused by the fire in the Market Complex that housed over 50 shops and a hotel named Samrat Hotel near Marichikot Chhak on Grand Road.

The committee headed by Puri sub-collector will also comprise the local tehsildar, Town Police IIC and Fire Officer. The committee will make a thorough probe into the circumstances that led to the blaze and submit a report. The committee will also assess the losses suffered by the shopkeepers due to the blaze and submit a report.

The reason for the fire mishap is yet to be ascertained even as reports said the fire first broke out at a garment shop on the first floor of the complex and soon spread to other shops nearby.

Several shopkeepers have lost valuables worth lakhs of rupees and were seen crying profusely. They are yet to receive any help from the administration.

“Everything is reduced to ashes. Even bank documents, shop documents, GST and LIC papers. I’m helpless now,” said a shopkeeper.
Another woman shopkeeper cried inconsolably and said, “Every hope of mine has been dashed in front of my eyes. How will I survive now? I had taken a loan to renovate the building and now I have lost everything. I request the government to extend a helping hand. I cannot see my shop in this condition.”

Speaking to OTV, Fire Officer, Central Range, Ramesh Chandra Majhi said, “Dousing flames in the building was very challenging for my team. I appeal to everyone to renovate their old buildings and equip them with fire safety materials. They should also leave spaces/openings for the release of smoke.”

“We had trained them and spread awareness in this regard at Puri Fire Station. There is a bank on the first floor, but fortunately, there has been not much damage in the bank. Our priority was to extinguish the flames and the team has done it. Further steps will be taken on the orders of the administration,” he added.

(Reported by Madhusudan Mishra, OTV)