Chandni Chowk Fire: Traders say losses in crores, everything destroyed

- June 14, 2024
| By : Patriot Bureau |

Over 50 shops were gutted in a fire that required 50 fire tenders and 200 on-the-ground personnel to be brought under control after a 12-hour effort

“Everything has turned to ashes — dreams, the shop and all its goods,” lamented a trader whose shop was destroyed in the massive blaze in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, which also brought down two buildings in the area.

His was one of over 50 shops gutted in a fire that required 50 fire tenders and 200 personnel to control after a 12-hour effort.

The number of shops damaged by the fire could still rise, and the traders’ losses could be in the crores.

The fire broke out in Chandni Chowk‘s Old Katra Marwadi Market on Thursday evening. Fortunately, there were no casualties.

It was 4.15 pm on Thursday when Narendra, 60, was on a regular call with a customer when he heard screams.

“People were shouting about a fire. We already knew that our shop was in a narrow place. I immediately asked everyone in the shop to evacuate. Within a few minutes, everything was reduced to ash,” he recounted.

The gutted shops sold sarees, dupattas, and other combustible items, according to officials.

Delhi Fire Services chief Atul Garg stated that two buildings housing multiple shops, including the one where the fire started, collapsed due to the blaze.

Deepak Mahendru, president of Nai Sadak Traders Association, said that police and fire brigade teams are still keeping traders away from their shops as more buildings could collapse.

“So far, I know that more than 50 shops were gutted, causing a loss of Rs 70 to 80 crores in products alone,” Mahendru said.

“The fire started from shop number 1580 or 1581, and within no time it engulfed the entire area. Fortunately, no one was injured, else it could have been drastic,” he added.

Police have not allowed the shopkeepers to enter their shops as the fire department continues its operation, so a total estimate of the losses incurred has not been made by the traders.

According to the fire department, the fire erupted from a shop due to a short circuit in an air conditioner (AC) which spread to other shops. Due to the intensity of the fire, two buildings collapsed.

Another shopkeeper, Jaspreet Singh, 51, said, “My priority was to save my workers and customers. I asked them to evacuate the shop as quickly as possible. I was the last person to leave. After ensuring no one was left behind, I somehow closed the already hot shutter and ran away.” He added that his shop was his only source of income.

“We stood there with tears in our eyes, thinking about how we will manage back in our house after this. Though there is insurance, it takes many days to clear,” Singh said.

DFS officials said firefighters faced several challenges in the operation. “Due to the narrow lanes, we had to extend our fire hose for more than 300 metres and had to add extra pressure,” an official explained.

The fire department also had to use water bowsers and robots to douse the flames.

The official further said there were no nearby water sources, adding to the problem of refilling the water tanks.

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He noted, “The shops had combustible material which only needs a small spark.” Dangling power lines in the area were also a challenge for the firefighters, the official added.

The fire was brought under control at 4.30 am on Friday, followed by a cooling operation at the spot with the help of eight fire tenders.  (With inputs from PTI)