Chennai shopping hub in blazes, 7 lk goods destroyed

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Goods worth Rs seven lakhs were destroyed in a major fire that broke out at the fourth floor of a commercial building at the Ranganathan Street here on Monday, Sep 1 morning. However, no casualties have been reported so far. According to police, around 20 fire tenders were rushed to the site to douse the flames. Investigations are on to find out the reason for the fire. Further reports are awaited.
4:00 PM 9/1/2008

Chennai, Sep 1: A major fire broke out at leading retailer 'Saravana Stores' on the Ranganathan Street, the shopping hub of South Chennai on Monday, Sep 1 morning.

Police sources, quoting initial reports, said at least two people, both employees of the shop, were feared trapped inside the six- storeyed building, even as another staffer managed to escape. The explosion of LPG cylinders in the fifth and sixth floors of the complex is suspected to have sparked off the blaze. The accident occurred as breakfast was being arranged for hundreds of employees of the leading retailer.

However, unconfirmed reports said at least 20 people were trapped in the building. The loss was expected to run into several crores as the the retailer had stocked virtually every item from plastics to jewellery, including consumer durables and household articles in the sprawling complex spread over more than 50,000 sq ft.

The fire which broke out in the Saravana Stores soon spread to nearby shops.

Chaos reigned supreme even as Fire Service Vehicles and Metrowater Tankers had great difficulty in reaching the spot due to narrow road space and traffic jam. Thick smoke engulfed the area. Two skylift ladders from the Fire and Rescue Services Department, deployed at Ranganathan Street and Natesan Street, the rear side of the shopping complex, along with fire fighting units were battling hard to contain the flames.

A fireman at the scene told the sources only half the blaze had been contained.

''Nothing could be said at the moment as we cannot enter the premises, unless the fire was completely brought under control. Only after we enter the premises, can we get a clear picture of the damage,'' he said.

Traffic on the busy Usman Road came to a grinding halt and office-goers were put to hardship as traffic was diverted. Only one-way traffic was allowed on the newly-opened Usman Road Flyover.

Police were using public address systems to advise people to take alternative routes and regulate traffic. They were also seen chasing away curious onlookers to enable entry of fire fighting units and water tankers to the spot.

Since the shop used to draw thousands of people the moment it was opened around 0900 hrs, the consequences would have been disastrous, had the fire occurred after the doors opened for business.

Power supply to the entire T Nagar Area was switched off and all shops downed shutters as the blaze spread.

Traffic came to a grinding halt in the busy area always teeming with millions of shoppers everyday.

A sudden downpour in the T Nagar and surrounding areas hampered the fire fighting operations. While fire on the Ranganathan Street side was more or less contained, the blaze was still raging on at the rear, side where items such as furniture, cushions and computer tables were on display.

The fire and Rescue Services Department sources said the fire in the two shops flanking Saravana Stores were contained. However, in the main building, the flames were still raging on.

Two skylifters, two major rescue tenders, two crash tenders, three ambulances and more than 25 Metrowater tankers and 16 fire fighting units were deployed in putting out the flames.

The fire fighting units were rushed from various parts of the city, including Teynampet, Saidapet, Guindy, Ashok Nagar, Mylapore, Parrys Corner, Kilpauk, Vyasarpadi and Vepery.
11:05 AM 9/1/2008


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