Bengaluru: Large stacks of branded clothes, fashion accessories, leather products and furniture were reduced to ashes in a major fire at the five-storey store of ‘Brand Factory’ near Marathahalli bridge on HAL main road in the early hours of Friday.
As many as 150 fire fighters, aided by 23 fire tenders and an aerial ladder, battled for nearly nine hours to control the fire of a scale that hasn’t been seen in Bengaluru in the last few years. There were no casualties.
What complicated the fire fighting was the fact that a petrol bunk is located next to the store. The police are questioning the store manager, identified as Srikanth, to ascertain the value of the gutted goods.
Although it’s unclear what caused the fire and exactly on which floor it broke out first, H S Revanna, DIG (Fire), suspected short circuit. The staff, after closing down the store around 11 pm on Thursday, had retired to their quarters.
Around 3.30 pm, they were woken up by local residents who said they had seen thick clouds of smoke billowing out of the building. The store staff then called the fire control room.
The fire control room alerted the Regional Fire Office, J H Ravishankar, who was on night patrol. He summoned a total of 23 fire tenders, including an aerial ladder which can help the firemen reach even the 56th floor of any building, to the spot.
“Nobody knows the source of the fire and on which floor it broke out first. The fire had spread to all the five floors by the time our firemen got into action. We quickly formed five teams of 30 firemen each, one for every floor. The firemen encircled the building, splashed water and controlled the blazes. They then got into the building and went about their job after wearing artifical ventilators,” Revanna said.
The fire spread quickly as a large quantity of readymade garments, leather bags and other leather products were stored, and it was difficult for firemen to control it, he added, suspecting short circuit to be the cause. The inferno was fully doused only by 12.30 pm. Firemen and the police were careful to prevent the fire from spreading to the adjacent buildings, especially the petrol bunk next door.
The building is jointly owned by three people — Shivakumar, Hemareddy and Ravi Kumar. A Mumbai-based industrialist, Kishan Lal, had rented it from them and was running the store for the last eight years, the police said.
The fire brigade is ascertaining whether the builder had followed fire safety norms laid down in the National Building Code, Revanna said.