After the Fire

( Bagree Market Inferno. Kolkata 2018 )

After the incident of Stephen court and New market, the shopping marts of the city of Kolkata is yet to learn their lessons as yet another inferno hits a 6-storyed wholesale mart on Canning street of the busy market area of Central Kolkata.

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Bagree market housed over a thousand shops, comprising of sellers of pharmaceuticals ,cosmetics, decorative items etc. According to unconfirmed eye witness report, around 2.30am of Sunday morning of 16th September 2018, sparks started to flung at a light post in front of the market. At that very place, canisters of deodorants were kept and as soon as the sparks hit the canisters, they blasted and scattered in every direction, spreading the fire inside the market. As it was night time, luckily no one were present inside the market, preventing any causalities. 

Fire engines were dispatched within moments notice, but as Caning street being a narrow road and which most of it are occupied by sellers and shopkeepers with goods and stored product, the Engines has a difficulty to access the market on time. Frantic has set in as the sellers were going helter-skelter to save their goods, adding to the chaos.

The blaze that broke out on Sunday morning, not only affected the business owners but also those who worked in their shops. In fact these workers and laborer’s formed the backbone of the market, ferrying goods from one shop to another. Future of thousands were thrown into uncertainty who are directly or indirectly involved with this wholesale market

According to fire department reports, the fire extinguishing network of the market has failed, as the tanks of the overhead extinguishers were empty, causing the fire to spread more quick as there has been no primary wall to stop the spread of the fire due to failed extinguishers.The inferno engulfed more than a hundred shops, throwing the future of thousands of people into question. Shop owners had stacked goods ahead of the festive seasons in Kolkata, the losses are estimated to run up over several hundred crores.

After a struggle of over 5 days, the fire department and disaster relief team could stop the flames from consuming the entire market, saving what could have been a larger disaster . But the Bagree market inferno left many question with the ashes, as this is not the first time a large market like bagree has caught fire in Kolkata. Counting the experience of past and present, a question remains that whether life is less valuable than livelihood . As like Bagree, many markets in the city still works under the ignorance of any fire safety norm , or restrictions to stacking of inflammable items around high risk factors in market premises.

The West Bengal government and the fire department has initiated a search and strict enforcement of fire safety rule after the incident of Bagree market.

 

The documentation was focused on the aftermath of the first blaze that engulfed Bagree market on the night of 16th September 2018.