A short-circuit triggered a fire at a garments and furnishings store in the densely populated and congested Jugsalai market area on Monday afternoon.
It took six fire tenders two hours to douse the leaping flames, but dense smoke continued to billow out of the gutted top floor of the shop till late in the evening.
Eyewitnesses said the blaze was detected at Laxmi Cloth Stores around 3pm. While owner of the shop-cum-godown Kamal Agrawal was taking a lunch break, some children spotted smoke and raised an alarm.
Other shopkeepers alerted Jugsalai police and the government fire station in Golmuri.
The first fire tender arrived within 20 minutes from Tata Steel fire station, following police SOS. Two more fire tenders arrived soon therafter from Golmuri.
Firefighters, however, had a difficult time because the road to the shop is extremely narrow and there is a mesh of powerlines above. They called for more help. After an hour, three more fire tenders joined the blaze battle.
Promptness of the firefighters saved more than 40,000 lives of shopkeepers, shoppers and residents. The buildings in Jugsalai market area share walls and, if the fire was allowed to spread, there could have been casualties.
Officer-in-charge of Jugsalai police station Arun Kumar Mishra confirmed that a short-circuit on the second floor of the three-storey building had triggered the mishap.
He said they would register a case after formal inquiry.
Agrawal said he was yet to ascertain his losses.
"We keep readymade garments and saris, dress and shirt material as well as furnishings in the three floors. How much was gutted will have to be seen," he said.