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A firecracker market on Exhibition Ground of the city was gutted as a major fire broke out injuring two persons and burning more than 150 vehicles parked in the area on Saturday.
The fire broke out at the market near Kirti Stumbh at 3.30 pm and engulfed the whole complex of 50 shops within minutes as stall-owners and customers ran out for their lives. A fire-tender parked on the ground responded immediately and also alerted fire and emergency response services of Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC).
However, fire spread to all the 50 shops despite three water-bowsers from nearby Dandia Bazaar fire station reaching the spot within a few minutes.
"We do not know the exact cause of the fire but people have said it started after somebody from stall no-6 went to stall no-7 and lit it. Since we were on standby, we responded immediately. However, traffic was jammed and this made it difficult for emergency vehicles to reach the spot instantly," Hitesh Taparia, Chief Fire Officer of the city, said.
Jigar Jani, owner of stall no-8, said, "I heard noise of bursting a cracker in stall no-7. However, within a wink, the stall was on fire."
Three persons were reportedly trapped in the fire and received minor burn injuries before emergency services personnel could rescue them. "They sustained minor injuries and were asphyxiated. They have been rushed to SSG Hospital," Vadodara district collector Vinod Rao said.
As the fire started from a corner of the complex, major blasts were heard leaving trails of fire in the sky, eye witnesses and people living around the ground said. Though stall-owners and visitors managed to escape, more than 150 vehicle, most of them two-wheelers, a few cars and auto-rickshaws parked on the ground were damaged, police said.
"The fact that no casualty has been reported means safety measures were full-proof. Two persons have received minor injuries and more than 150 vehicles have been damaged. We are in the process of registering a case of accident," city police commissioner Satish Sharma said.
The commissioner and chief fire officer said the stall-owners had requisite permissions to set up stalls and sell firecrackers.
Fire and emergency service department of VMC pressed 27 fire tenders and around 150 firemen into the service and controlled the fire within half-an-hour.