Lanes too narrow, fire tenders forced to stop 400 metres away

Buildings

At least 70 fire fighters and two deputy fire officers in 22 fire tenders rushed to Bhagirath Palace in Chandni Chowk soon after receiving information about fire in two buildings on Thursday evening.

But they stopped near Gurdwara Sis Ganj, 400 metres away from the buildings. That was how far the narrow and congested lanes of Old Delhi allowed them to progress. From here, the firemen dragged water hoses through the choked lanes to reach the burning buildings.

Racing through the evening traffic — the fire started at 5.15 pm — and crawling through narrow lanes, the fire tenders reached the spot 45 minutes after they received the distress call. This, when all the fire stations in the vicinity of Chandni Chowk were alerted and asked to reach Bhagirath Palace at the earliest.

"It was rush hour and the area around Chandni Chowk usually remains packed. The traffic congestion restricted our movement," a Fire official said.

Fire chief A K Sharma said: "The buildings were far from the main road. It was impossible for the fire tenders to reach there. The staircase of the building was too narrow, and it was not possible for firefighters to go inside to douse the flames. The building is old and has cracks, we feared that it might cave in, so firefighters had to be careful."

The firemen also had to watch out for electric cables, which dangled dangerously. "Fire fighting operations become difficult in such congested areas and fighters need to be extra vigilant," Singh said.

The PVC wires, inflammable material and electronic goods stored inside the building fuelled the fire. "The godowns and shops had PVC wires, plastic material and mobile spare parts that increased the magnitude of the fire. The fire was under control by 7 pm," the official said.

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views expressed in comments published on indianexpress.com are those of the comment writer's alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Indian Express Group or its staff. Comments are automatically posted live; however, indianexpress.com reserves the right to take it down at any time. We also reserve the right not to publish comments that are abusive, obscene, inflammatory, derogatory or defamatory.