BANGALORE: Bangalore’s heritage structure Russell Market went up in flames in the wee hours of Saturday, completely destroying 174 shops. Vegetable, fruits, flowers and other items worth lakhs of rupees were gutted in the fire.
An official in the BBMP said the total loss to shop owners was estimated to `89,22,995, while the loss to BBMP building was `31,51,850. The total loss was `1,20,74,845.
The fire department officials said the fire broke out at in shop in the rear of the building around 3.45 am and some people sleeping in the market alerted the fire department around 4 am.
“By the time the fire personnel reached the spot, the fire had engulfed half the building and had spread to the first floor. After a seven-hour operation, the fire was completely doused around 11 am. The fire was intensified as large number of cartons filled with hay and papers were kept in the shops,” the officials said.
Though the exact reason for the fire is yet to be ascertained, it is suspected that electric short circuit could have led to the blaze.
After inspecting the spot, the DGP of Fire and Emergency Services A R Infant said there were no fire safety measures in the entire market.
Following the incident, Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda announced a cash compensation of `50,000 for the vendors who lost their shops in the mishap.
The BBMP has decided to rebuild the market and the estimate for it would be discussed on Monday. About 29 fire tenders and 136 fire personnel were engaged in putting off the fire. Each fire tender made four trips to refill water.
“It was a Herculean task to bring the fire under control and there was no water source around the market. Investigations are being made to know the exact reason for the incident,” Infant said.
Meanwhile, BBMP Commissioner M K Shankaralinge Gowda said that to ascertain the value of loss, the entire staff of East Division including Joint Commissioner, Chief Engineer, Revenue Officers, Assistant Revenue Officers, Revenue Inspectors and others were put into work.
“They are recording the statements of the shop owners and the exact value of loss would be known on Monday.”
Besides Sadananda Gowda, Forest Minister C P Yogeshwar, Opposition Leaders in the Karnataka Legislature Siddaramaiah and Motamma, KPCC president G Parameshwar, local MLA Roshan Baig, city Police Commissioner B G Jyothiprakash Mirji and Mayor Sharadamma visited the spot.
Russell market’s brush with fire
Nature of mishap: Small fire spark impacted an entire row of small roadside shops | Reason: Initial reports claimed it was a cigarette butt, later confirmed as a short circuit |
Damage: Around 40 vendors lost their make shift shops
Nature of mishap: Stacks of dry grass caught fire |
Reason: Excessive heat (unconfirmed till date) | Damage: The fire spread rapidly in the inside enclosure surrounding the massive heritage structure
Nature of mishap: One shop caught fire | Reason:
Fire sparks spread towards the unsolicited diesel stored close-by | Damage: No estimate till date, but shops had to be evacuated completely for months