Fire ravages three floors on a highrise in central Kolkata

A major mishap was averted when a blaze in Jeevan Sudha building, a Chowringhee highrise barely 200metres from Chatterjee International Centre, completely gutted the top three floors of the buildings as the flames and smoke travelled to other floors through the AC duct.

Ninety three people had died in a similar fire in AMRI Hospitals in 2012 when smoke had travelled from the basement to the entire building through the AC duct.
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"Thursday being a holiday there were no employees present inside the in the building. On a normal working day when close to 800 people work here it could have caused a stampede and damage to life and limbs," said a fire department official.

The fire originated in a server room on the seventeenth floor occupied by the State Bank of India travelled to the eighteenth and nineteenth floor through the AC duct. Strong gusts of wind made the flames leap and posed a threat of engulfing the neighbouring buildings. The firemen had to break the window panes to let the accumulated smoke out of the building.

Jeevan Sudha on 42C Jawaharlal Nehru Road is flanked by two landmarks — Jeevan Deep on one side and The 42 on the other. Both Jeevan Deep and Jeevan Sudha are owned by Life Corporation of India.

Nobody was trapped or injured in the fire but some people on the upper floors of the neighbouring Jeevan Deep Building rushed out of their office as the strong breeze posed a threat of fire engulfing portions of the neighbouring building.

Firemen said that the fire-fighting system in the building was lying defunct. "The damage could have been restricted if the building had basic fire-fighting measures like smoke alarm and water sprinklers. Fire-fighting system in the building was lying defunct and there was no water reservoir to douse the flames. We had to draw water from the neighbouring Jeevan Deep building as there was no water source in Jeevan Sudha. Most fire extinguishers were lying defunct and there were no smoke alarms and water sprinklers," said a senior fire department official.
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The skylift was brought in to access the upper floors of the building but there was not enough space to manoeuvre the machine. Firemen had to break the window panes to let the smoke out of the building.

Close to two hundred people work between eleventh and nineteenth floor of the building owned by State Bank of India but Thursday being a holiday on the occasion of Kali Puja, there was nobody in the building. Eighteen fire tenders brought the blaze under control in over four hours.

The fire was first detected by two employees of the Global Markets Unit of the State Bank of India located in the seventeenth floor. "Our offices are shut today but since we assist in overseas business, two of our employees came to office. They detected smoke in the server room and immediately informed the cops," said Venkatesh Bhardawaj, general manager.

The Global units department deals with remittances and overseas transactions. Bank officials said that the damages was restricted to "tangible assets". "The damage is restricted to computers, other machines and furniture. We have a disaster recovery location. We will start working from that location from Friday onwards. None of the data will be lost either," said Bhardawaj.

The highrises in the business hub have witnessed several fires in the past three years. A fire broke out in Chatterjee International in September 2014. A few months later there was another blaze in Himalaya House. A few months ago several floors of the Golden Park Hotel opposite Metro Plaza were ravaged in a midnight fire.

Source: India Times