Major Fire In Secretariat Complex, Record Destroyed

Srinagar: A fire broke out in the Civil Secretariat annexe Thursday morning, possibly destroying the record housed in the state government headquarters.

The two-storey wooden structure adjacent to the main building of the Civil Secretariat went up in flames at around 9 am, fire spreading to the record room of the Civil Secretariat. The gutted building housed offices of the Higher Education Department, Planning Department and the Director of Treasury and Accounts among others. Sources say record in the building may have been completely destroyed.

"We have had a fire in the annexe of the secretariat housing the offices of technical education, higher education, forest, accounts and treasuries. The cause of the fire and  the extent of the damage, particularly of records stored in these offices, will take some time to assess." tweeted Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah.

A total chaos was witnessed as employees and residents of the area crowded the site. It took the firemen nearly two hours to douse the flames.

Director, Kashmir Fire and Service, R T Dubey, said more than six firefighters were injured during the rescue operation. “As soon as we heard about it, we immediately rushed to the spot and sent thirty nine fire-tenders out on the spot,” he said. Dubey said the roadblocks in and around the secretariat delayed the action thus hampering a smooth operation, an assertion that was rejected by SP Security, Maqsood-ul-Zaman.

“There were no road blocks, so there is no question of any delay because of that,” said Zaman, adding, “In fact, the response time of the Fire Services is questionable.” 

Giving further details,  Zaman said fire initially started from room no 108 of Accounts and Treasuries and spread to other parts of the building.

“The fire then engulfed Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Estates store, Wireless Communications and CRPF  Office,” said Zaman.

Questions are being raised on the safety of the largely wooden structure, which had rooms full of crucial records of many departments.

Meanwhile the government has ordered a probe; however, the cause of fire is yet to be ascertained. Official sources said no official was inside the building when the fire broke out. 

Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, who was attending a function at Gulab Bagh had to leave it midway and rush to the Civil Secretariat. He spoke to the top brass of the civil administration and police.  

The Chief Minister gave directions for putting in place necessary measures to ensure the safety of the retrieved record.

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