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Fire-prone downtown is fire brigade’s constant worry

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Srinagar, Nov 20: Prone to fires for its congested layout, Old Srinagar has become a worry for the fire brigade.In a recent incident at Habba Kadal, property worth lakhs of rupees was reportedly gutted in a major fire that consumed three structures.
Several fire tenders were engaged in fire-fighting, but the narrow approach roads choked their efforts.
It was only with the support of the locals that the fire brigade could douse the flames.
It, however, is a recurring challenge, owing to the lack of proper fire-safety measures in the area.
“The areas of downtown (old Srinagar) have always been prone to fire. The biggest reason is that electrical wires are hanging outside the shops and this leads to short-circuit often. It then becomes difficult to control the fire due to congested by-lanes,” a fire-fighter said.
Another reason is the presence of old buildings in the area which don’t have proper safety measures to tackle fire situations, added the operator.
A group of fire officials operating from uptown areas said about half an hour is spent in covering small distance, owing to pesky traffic jams.
“The condition of traffic due to diversion plans is such that huge amount of time is wasted when a fire engine rushes to tackle a fire breakout,” said a fire operator, wishing anonymity.
An official at Fire and Service department said whenever they turn out towards the scene of fire especially in Srinagar limits, they face these traffic jams. “This sometimes takes huge amount of time to reach on spot. And then diversions take place. They add to the difficulty.”
Deputy Director, Fire and Emergency Services Bashir Ahmad Shah Shah asserted that long term measures need to be taken for addressing the problem. “The widening of roads within the city limits especially in the old city should take place. We have to make these roads wide otherwise it will take the lives as well as the property,” he said.
Commenting on uptown areas, he said, “We are well equipped in that regard. The uptown areas like Natipora, Rambagh, Sanatnagar, and Rawalpora already have a fire station in place. In case there is any major mishap wherein we have to intervene then we send fire tenders from headquarters or any other station via Bypass. That becomes more suitable.”