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Major fire in Civil Sectt complex
Service records, medical dispensary, guard rooms gutted
SRINAGAR, July 11: A two-storeyed wooden building housing various departments, a medical dispensary and service records of various departments was gutted in a major fire incident at Civil Secretariat complex here this morning.

No one was injured in the fire incident. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, his cabinet colleagues, bureaucrats and most of the employees had not yet reached their offices when the fire broke out in the highest seat of the state government.

The Civil Secretariat employees and locals in the area accused fire and emergency services department of reaching late to control the fire and to save the precious records of employees and other government documents. The building was being used as store of service records of various departments in Civil Secretariat.

Offices of Director General of Accounts and Treasuries, Cooperative, Higher Education, Revenue, Vice Chairman of Gujjar and Bakerwal Advisory Board and a medical dispensary had been operating from the devastated building. Few guardrooms of the CRPF were also damaged in the fire.

Unconfirmed reports said that one SLR was damaged in the fire. However, the remaining explosives and ammunitions were saved by CRPF personnel present there in the morning.

The eye-witnesses said that the leaping flames of fire and smoke started billowing out from the two-storeyed wooden structure which is adjacent to the main building of Civil Secretariat at 9. 05 AM in one of the rooms of the education department. Within minutes it spread to other rooms of the wooden structure causing extensive damage to various departments and service records of more than a dozen departments.

The employees of Civil Secretariat, who had reached secretariat premises at the time of the fire and locals of the area immediately called fire and emergency services department. They alleged that fire tender that remains stationed inside the premises of the Civil Secretariat permanently could have controlled the fire in the beginning.

The fire tenders which came from headquarters of fire and emergency services department reached at least half an hour late, till then, the fire had engulfed all the corners of the building.

The employees later held protests within secretariat premises and shouted slogans against fire and emergency services for their failure to save the service records of the employees, and mostly the records of the education department employees.

However the Director General of Fire and Emergency Services Ghulam Ahmad Bhat said that there was no delay or laxity from his department. The Director General said it took them few minutes to start the rescue operation, “but the structure was wooden and it caught fire quickly,” he said.

Bhat said that it would be difficult for him to tell the actual cause of the fire.

However, locals of Suthra Shahi and employees gave two versions of the incident. Some said that fire started due to an electric short-circuit. The others said that the fire started from one of the guard rooms of CRPF when they were cooking food.

The initial reports said that a large number of official records and service books of more than 500 officials, including cases of pensioners were also gutted in the fire.

Chief Minister and most of the senior cabinet colleagues had not yet reached Civil Secretariat at the time of the fire. They had gone to Hazratbal to attend the Fateh ceremony of Begum Akbar Jehan, wife of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah and grandmother of Omar Abdullah.

One day holiday was declared in Civil Secretariat offices after the incident around Noon.

Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, PHE minister 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 visited the site of the devastated building.

After 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.

News Updated at : Thursday, July 11, 2013
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Govt orders inquiry
SRINAGAR, July 11: Following the fire incident in the annexe of Civil Secretariat Srinagar this morning, the Government today ordered an inquiry into the incident to be conducted by Secretary, General Administration Department. 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. Meanwhile, the fire was brought under control and all the houses and business
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