A day after a fire broke out at Vishal Mega Mart in the busy Phase 5 market, the Mohali administration on Sunday declared the three-storeyed building housing the showroom structurally unsafe.

“We have prohibited anyone from entering the premises, as we don’t know the extent to which pillars supporting the building have weakened after the blaze,” said Jagdeep Sehgal, subdivisional magistrate (SDM), Mohali.

Police have cordoned off the building (SCO No. 5 and 6), and even the fire and emergency staff are dousing the smoldering fire from outside the premises, said the SDM, adding that it has been “shut till further orders”.

The multibrand retail store that was gutted is situated on the ground floor and basement, while the first floor houses Barbeque Nation, a restaurant, besides a salon, and microbrewery The BrewMaster is on the top floor.

Adjoining SCOs that house Kalyan Jewellers, Talwar Jewellers and other establishments will remain open.

CHARRED GOODS STILL SMOULDERING

Smoke kept billowing out of the building on Sunday as well, more than 36 hours after a suspected short-circuit triggered the fire in the basement around 6am on Saturday.

“Fire is under control,” said the SDM. “The smoke is emanating from the charred goods.”

Sehgal said around four-foot-deep water has been filled in the basement to cool down the charred goods immediately. “Experts will be called to check structural stability and a decision will be taken accordingly,” he said.

Mohali fire officer Karam Chand Sood said five tenders have been stationed at the spot as “precautionary measure”.

“Firemen are not entering the premises, as there is fear that the building may collapse,” he said.

The fire had come to light around 8am on Saturday, when some employees opened the shutters to clean the showroom. They found smoke rising from the basement, and immediately informed the store manager, who in turn alerted the fire brigade and police.

The basement housed sections of children, men and women garments besides soft toys. Cartons of ghee were also stocked in one corner, which added fuel to the fire.

The teams of National Disaster Response Force and Indian Air Force were also called in on Saturday after 20 fire tenders from Mohali and Chandigarh had failed to douse the fire, which spread to the ground floor in the evening.

STRICT ACTION ON THE CARDS

After a fire audit in the district last September, Vishal Mega Mart was among 200-odd violators issued notices, but the management failed to take corrective measures.

Goods kept in the showroom as well as basement were beyond the storage capacity, and even the staircase was used to store goods, leaving only a narrow space. Amid poor ventilation, firemen had to dig a hole on the rear of the showroom to let the smoke escape the basement.

Fire officer Sood said the department will be writing to the government, recommending strict action against the management, as they failed to rectify various violations despite notice.

Aashika Jain, officiating deputy commissioner, said a fact-finding inquiry will be conducted in the matter. “Strict action will be taken if any violation is found,” she said.

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