The fire originated in a garment store around 8pm on Wednesday and soon engulfed the entire 3-storey building. Thick smoke billowed from the market complex, making it difficult for the fire service personnel from dousing the raging fire. Efforts were on to control the fire till filing of the report.
“We evacuated and rescued around 140 tourists who were present in a hotel inside the market complex on Wednesday evening. All are safe. No casualty or injury has been reported,” senior fire service officer Ramesh Chandra Majhi said.
Puri SP Kanwar Vishal Singh said over 100 firefighters and 12 fire tenders have been mobilised to control the fire. “We have evacuated people from nearby buildings and sealed the area,” Singh said.
Three fire service personnel were injured while dousing the fire on Wednesday night. Sources said they faced difficulties in breathing after being suffocated in thick smoke inside the building.
“The building’s entry and exit points are very narrow. Around 42 shops, a bank and a hotel exist in the market complex. Most shopkeepers had downed their shutters. It was difficult to break open the iron doors of each shop amid the massive fire and smoke. We didn’t find enough passage area to move the fire tenders,” fire officer Majhi said.
Official sources said the extremely congested market complex did not have adequate fire safety measures.