Owners try to pick up the pieces
A day after fire gutted Sara Sahara Mall and Manish Market, fire officials allow shop owners inside their shops to salvage their belongings
A DAY after a major fire gutted Sara Sahara Mall and Manish Market, utter chaos surrounded the plazas, as shop owners tried to salvage their belongings.
Shop owners with hopeful eyes frantically searched for goods that they could salvage from the debris.
Things we lost in the fire: Shop owners rummage through the debris and
the ashes to find their belongings after fire officials finally doused the
flames at 2.30 pm yesterday. Pics/Bipin Kokate
Unfortunately, all they could find were half-burnt goods, which are of little use to them. Arshad Patni, who had shops in both Manish Market and Sara-Sahara Mall grievingly said, "I had a mobile shop on the ground floor of Manish Market and another at Sara Sahara. Both the shops are completely gutted. There is no hope of getting any money from insurance nor has the government provided us with any assurances. I only have faith in the Almighty to resurrect my life."
Fire officials explained to MiD DAY that after the fire was doused on Sunday at 2.30 pm, shopkeepers had been escorted to their shops, so that they could retrieve anything that they could possibly find.
Explaining the move, a fire official said, "An hour or so after the fire was put out, we asked the shopkeepers to form groups of five and escorted them inside the shops and allowed them to recover whatever they could find. We wanted them to personally check the condition of their belongings and prevent any kind of theft." He added that at one point of time, the police had to resort to a lathicharge to maintain law and order.
Meanwhile, some of the shopkeepers have alleged a sabotage and blamed officials of being callous. Echoing these sentiments, Farid Batatawala said, "We have a hunch that this fire was not an accident. Both, the civic body and the fire brigade, worked slowly to douse the flames. It almost appeared as if they were doing the work for formality's sake."
However, Chief Fire Officer H N Muzawar refuted the claims saying that they found it difficult to navigate through the market on the day of the fire. "As of 3 pm today, we have asked for a stop work notice." When asked about the source of the fire, he added, "Primarily, we think a short circuit in one of shops at Manish Market caused the fire. We are collecting evidence and will be able to provide an exact reason only after two days."