SHILLONG: A devastating fire that broke out in a building at Police Bazar in Shillong has tragically claimed a life, while a fire service constable has been hospitalised due to suffocation.
The unfortunate victim of this tragedy has been identified as Sampath Kumar, an employee at a rented godown in the area. Confirming the cause of death, East Khasi Hills SP Sylvester Nongtynger told a local online news portal that Kumar succumbed to suffocation from the thick smoke generated by the fire.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma expressed deep concern regarding the tragic loss of both lives and property resulting from the destructive fire. Taking to a micro-blogging website, he wrote, “Concerned about the fire incident that occurred today in Jail Road, Police Bazar, Shillong that caused huge loss to life and property. Have asked the District Administration to assess the damages and to assist the families affected by the incident.”
The fire, which started at approximately 1:20 pm on Saturday, rapidly consumed a furniture shop located near Payal Cinema at Thana Road. The exact cause of the blaze remains under investigation.
An eyewitness present at the scene initially suggested that an electrical malfunction triggered the fire. However, alternative reports are pointing towards a cylinder explosion as a possible cause.
One of the most pressing concerns raised in the wake of the incident is the delay in the arrival of the fire tenders. Eyewitness accounts reported in the local press indicate a nearly 40-minute delay before firefighters reached the scene, a setback which potentially worsened the situation, allowing the flames to spread unchecked.
Complicating the efforts of the Meghalaya Fire Service, the narrow confines of Thana Road severely hindered the movement of several fire tenders. Such infrastructural limitations underline the challenges faced during emergencies in the area.
Efforts to completely extinguish the fire went on till late in the night, with fire service personnel and central forces working diligently at the scene.
In the aftermath of this incident, questions about the region’s preparedness for emergencies and the need for infrastructural improvements are bound to resurface. With lives at stake, the delay in response and the challenges faced due to narrow roads underscore the urgent need for revisions in emergency protocols and city planning.