Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

A massive fire that broke out at a market complex in the pilgrim city of Puri on Wednesday night is yet to be brought under control even after more than 11 hours of fire-fighting operations.

The blaze erupted at a garments shop on the first floor of Laxmi Market Complex in Marichikot Chhak on Grand Road around 8 pm yesterday. Gradually, the fire spread to other shops at the shopping complex.

As many as three fire service personnel were injured while trying to douse the flame. They have been admitted to the nearby hospital.

Though the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, it is suspected that an electrical short-circuit might have triggered the blaze.

Upon being informed, fire brigade personnel rushed to the spot and started the rescue operation. More than 100 tourists were rescued from a hotel. 

Panic gripped the area following the incident. The space at the market complex was so narrow that the fire brigade personnel faced a lot of hurdles during the rescue operations. In the process, at least three of them got suffocated. They were immediately rushed to the nearby hospital.

“We are facing a lot of hurdles in controlling the fire due to narrow space. Some of the shutters of the shops have been deformed. We are trying our best to douse the fire completely as soon as possible. Hopefully, the fire will be completely doused in a few hours,” said fire brigade personnel Ramesh Chandra Majhi.

Meanwhile, Fire Services DG Santosh Kumar Upadhyay said that all kinds of steps have been taken under the leadership of AFO and DFO to douse the flames.

“A total of 90 trained fire services personnel have been deployed at the spot to douse the fire. Track in the fire force and advanced rescue tenders have been sent from Bhubaneswar. Fire Officer from Cuttack is also present at the spot since last evening. We are hopeful that under the supervision of the Fire Officer, the blaze will be doused soon,” said Upadhyay.

“There was no visibility last night and our focus was on the rescue operation. However, our personnel put their life at stake and rescued many people in the process. They also took away two gas cylinders from the complex. Otherwise, things would have been more dangerous,” he said.

Puri SP Kanwar Vishal Singh assured that the fire will be doused completely within a couple of hours.

“More than 100 fire service personnel and ODRAF teams with sufficient fire vehicles are carrying out the operation to douse the fire. They are putting up their best efforts and are quite confident that the fire will be completely doused in two to three hours,” said Singh.

“We have barricaded the place and the traffic has diverged. I appeal to the public not to panic as they are now completely safe. We request cooperation from all,” he added.