Srinagar, Oct 9: As the residents of Nalbandpora Safakadal were preparing to visit masjids for Shab-e-Qadr, a major fire broke out on Tuesday evening that gutted at least 20 houses and in flames was property worth crores.
Officials said that no one was killed in the incident but residents sustained minor injuries in the major fire that brought thousands to streets looking for their friends and relatives engulfed in the fire.
The fire broke out at around 8 pm and spread to other houses in Nalbandpora area of Safakadal.
The fire services officials said they received the call from residents at around 8.15 pm and about 11 fire tenders from seven fire stations were pressed into service to control the fire.
"Flames are emanating but fire is not spreading further," he told Greater Kashmir at 11.30 pm.
He further said that at least six LPG cylinders exploded after fire broke out which aggravated it.
Corroborating the fire service official statement, an affected resident told Greater Kashmir that, "We heard a cylinder blast and within no time flames engulfed the entire area.
Rubina, whose house was also gutted, said her house was close to the house from which fire emanated. "We ran for safety after my father shouted that fire has broken nearby," said wailing Rubina.
Rubina said her father Muhammad Yaqoob Bhat stayed behind to retrieve the jewellery and other valuables. "From the time fire has broken out we've not seen him, where is he," she screamed.
Rubina's other sister who was wailing and crying, shouted, "My sister's wedding was scheduled to be held next month and we had kept the valuables there." Rubina after this statement fainted to be carried away by her relatives.
Women sitting in the compound of the 'safe houses' were reciting holy Quran. "We are praying for fire to get controlled," a woman said.
Narrow lanes of congested Nalbandpora made the job of the firemen more difficult as fire tenders were kept at a distance from the spot from where actually the fire was emanating from.
The firemen used water for dousing the fire from river Jehlum which is close to the spot.
People had assembled on the roadside and were trying to console the victims who were kept in a compound of a local Masjid.
"We've lost everything," screamed a woman. "It happened within few seconds," the victims said.
They said that after fire emanated they heard loud explosions. "It seemed as if hell has broken lose."
The other women were trying to console the victims. "All of you are safe and that is what matters," an elderly woman told a victim.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir S M Sahai told Greater Kashmir over phone late in the night. "Entire administration is on the spot and the fire has been controlled to a great extent."
The IGP said that till reports last came in 17 houses had been gutted. "Houses being old and no fire gap being maintained made the fire spread quickly," the IGP said.
He said that no casualties were reported and only few people sustained minor injuries.