The fire incident inside the civil secretariat complex on Thursday morning in Srinagar has exposed the preparedness of the Disaster management cell in the civil secretariat complex as crucial first hour was lost in the absence of well equipped fire tender at the site of fire accident.
According to eye witness reports and versions of the state govt employees the fire which started anytime between 8.30-9.00 a.m could not be contained as late as 10.26 when the fire tenders arrived on the scene and took control of the situation.
The precious time lost created precarious situation for the fire fighters as the fire in the wooden structure building had spread and engulfed the entire archaic structure.
According to state govt employees who were present in the civil secretariat the only fire tender present in the civil secretariat was empty and there was no water in the tank to immediately start fire fighting.
The second fire tender reached the spot at around 9.45 a.m but since it was a old model it also failed to effectively deal with the rapid fire. Finally, the modern and new fire tenders reached the spot at around 10.26 a.m and started fire fighting from different directions.
It took nearly 2 hours to control the fire in a two-storey wooden annexe next to the main secretariat, housing offices of the Higher Education Department, Planning Department and the Director of Treasury and Accounts among others.
Though no loss of life was reported in the mysterious fire but two of the firemen engaged in the task of controlling the fire from spreading to nearby six floor building received injuries. The state government has ordered a high level inquiry to ascertain the exact reason behind the mysterious fire which broke out in the civil secretariat complex anywhere between 8.30 -9.00 a.m.
The inquiry will be completed within 15 days.
Minister of State for Home, Sajad Ahmad Kitchloo inspected the site of fire and personally monitored the rescue and fire extinguishing operation.The power which was cut off was later restored around 2.30 p.m in the civil secretariat.
Following the fire incident the state govt employees were directed not to report on duty as the gates of the secretariat complex were closed down to prevent any other incident. However, a small group of employees indulged in slogan shouting and expressed concern over their plight if they would have present in the building.
Director of the Fire services department GM Bhat said, soon after receiving the flash message about fire incident in the civil secretariat fire brigade vehicles were rushed to the secretariat complex to contain the fire. He said the top priority of the firemen on ground zero was to prevent any loss of life ,and preventing the fire from spreading to civilian population living in the vicinity of the secretariat complex.
Despite best possible efforts firemen were targeted by the local residents in the as they feared for their own safety initially and pressurised them to focus their attention on residential areas as well.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah later rushed from a function at Gulab Bagh to Civil Secretariat to inspect the gutted wooden block housing Higher Education, Cooperative, Technical Education and other offices.
Taking first hand appraisal of the fire incident and receiving brief from the top brass administration and Director General Fire Services, G. M. Bhat, the Chief Minister gave directions for putting in place emergent measures to save the retrieved records and to house the gutted offices.
Minister for PHE, Sham Lal Sharma, Minister of State for Home, Sajjad Ahmad Kitchloo, Chief Secretary, Mohammad Iqbal Khandey, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, various Administrative Secretaries and officers besides President and Members of Civil Secretariat Employee’s Union were present on the occasion.