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Major fire in D block of Secretariat

M. Malleswara Rao

Trapped employees rescued; firemen bring situation under control

—PHOTO: NAGARA GOPAL

RAGING FIRE: Smoke emerging from the D block of the Secretariat on Thursday.

HYDERABAD: A major fire broke out in a three-storey D block of Andhra Pradesh Secretariat here on Thursday afternoon, trapping scores of employees in smoke and causing extensive damage to hundreds of computers, files and furniture.

A majority of the nearly 1,000 employees who work in the block, ran out when alerted about the fire allegedly caused by electrical short-circuit from a server in a room on the second floor around 2 p.m.

Some trapped employees were rescued by police and firemen who arrived within minutes.

Giddiness

Firemen broke open the door of a lunch-room on the second floor and rescued four employees, who collapsed after developing giddiness when smoke filled the room. Four women, who were stranded in a lift as power supply was switched off, were also brought out. None was injured.

Using half-a-dozen fire tenders, a snorkel and water tankers sent by the civic body, about 20 firemen battled for three hours to bring the flames under control. In the end, the interiors of the second and third floors of the building resembled war-ravaged zones.

Neither Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, away in Kadapa, nor any Minister was present on the premises. Labour Minister G. Vinod who came along with wife at 3 p.m, was aghast at the plumes of smoke that belched out from his office on the third floor. Finance Minister K. Rosaiah, whose office on the same floor remained safe, arrived later and announced that an inquiry into the fire would be conducted by an official committee comprising the Principal Secretary (Political), Director-General, Fire Services, and Chief Engineer, Roads & Buildings. It would identify the reasons and make suggestions to improve the system to prevent such fire in Secretariat. He said the incident had also been referred to CB-CID to investigate if there was a conspiracy.

The panel and the CB-CID would submit the reports in a week.

He said entry into the block had been barred to enable the forensic experts to collect samples of ash and burnt material.

Earlier, the Minister briefed the Chief Minister and reviewed the issue with Chief Secretary P. Ramakanth Reddy who visited the block while fire-fighting operation was on.

Employees working in seven other blocks fled the premises.

‘Something fishy’

K. Ramamohan Rao (Telugu Desam), G. Vijayarama Rao (Telangana Rasthra Samiti) and K. Ramakrishna (CPI) alleged that the fire was master-minded by the government to destroy some important files and data in the computers and said an inquiry by a sitting judge would be ordered if the Grand Alliance assumed power.

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