Fruit shops gutted

Owners claim loss of Rs. 8 lakh cash, fruits worth Rs. 30 lakh; Four cats charred

Mysuru:  Nearly 10 wholesale fruit shops in the APMC Sub Yard, just off New Sayyaji Rao Road, close to the old Regulated Market (RMC) bus stand, were gutted and nearly Rs.8 lakh cash and fruits worth more than Rs.30 lakh destroyed in an accidental fire here last night. Four cats too were charred to death. The incident occurred around 10.40 pm when there was a short circuit in Stall No. D-44. It immediately spread to the neighbouring shops on either side. Varieties of fruits including mangoes, pineapple, watermelon, sapota, apples and grapes were destroyed due to the searing heat.

There are nearly 200 stalls in the APMC Sub Yard, and surprisingly majority of the traders did not know about the fire mishap as they were all found going about their business.

The distraught owner of Stall No. D-44 Amanulla, from where it all began, speaking to Star of Mysore here this morning claimed that he had kept Rs. 2.50 lakh in cash in denominations of Rs. 50, 100, 200, 500 and 2,000, in the three compartments in the cash table.

“I had taken credit to make the payments to the suppliers this morning and so I had kept it in the cash table which  I had locked. I have lost everything. The whole shop is burnt and even four cats which had made the shop their home died in the fire,” said the young Amanulla.

In all, there were four tons of Badami mangoes costing around Rs.90 to Rs.100 a kg and three tons of sapota which were completely destroyed. “I had given written complaint to the KEB many times since the last one year about the problem of short circuit. But a lineman would come, look at it and go back telling that nothing can be done and that I should talk to the APMC President to set it right. Finally, the electricity metre board burst and the shop caught fire at around 10.40 pm,” he said.

As soon as the news spread, the shop-keepers rushed to the spot and watched helplessly as the fire spread and the furniture and the fruits all turned to black ashes right in front of their eyes.

The fire brigade personnel also reached the spot and as the intensity of the heat increased and they could not gain entry they looked for a shop from where they could douse the fire. They finally found one shop D-45 from where they started the fire fighting operation.  This shop had stocked two tons of pomegranate, Washington apples and black grapes worth Rs.2.5 lakh and they were all destroyed.

“We had to throw the crates containing the fruits outside,” said owner Syed Nayaz showing the almost empty shop.

The shop that was worst affected was Stall No. D-37 where nearly 9,000 kg of Alphonso mangoes worth Rs.12.70 lakh (Rs.143 a kg) were destroyed. “I get these mangoes from Channapatna and the stocks had continuously arrived in the last two to three days,” said owner Salim Pasha.

In Stall No. 39, Washington apples stored in 25 crates costing Rs.2,500 a crate and Delicious apples stored in 15 crates costing Rs.1,700 a crate and cash worth Rs. 80,000 was destroyed. There were also 10 crates of grapes worth Rs.1,000 a crate which were also burnt, said owner Syed Hussain. “I had an open heart surgery just a few days ago. I have three children and all of them are studying,” he said with a heavy heart.

“I had stocked pomegranate, Washington apples and black grapes weighing about 2 tons and worth Rs.2.5 lakh in all and they are all destroyed,” said Syed Nazaz of Stall No.D-45.

Stall No. D-42 which had stored pineapples had also housed a TV set. “The TV set which we had hung on the wall is completely gutted, the cash table, and cash amount of Rs.50,000 was destroyed,” said owner M.S. Mushtaq Shariff, even as Ayub Khan of Stall No.40 was looking at the leftover mango varieties of badami, raspuri, sundari which he had got from Channapatna.

Only Stall D-47 owner Chikkanna had a lucky escape. “Luckily in my shop only the electrical wires, fans and bulbs were burnt. My fruits including mangoes, sapota, papaya and grapes somehow escaped the fire. In fact I sold mangoes worth Rs. 2.50 lakh this morning,” he said with a sigh of relief.

All shops had weighing machines which were destroyed.

CESC Assistant Executive Engineer Madesh, speaking to Star of Mysore said, “The fire was not due to short circuit but due to a blown fuse. We always attend to complaints. The whole place could turn into an inferno because of empty wooden crates thrown all around. There are so many fire hazardous materials here.”  He said that CESC would handover the investigation to the Electrical Inspectorate.

No Insurance

None of the stall owners had insured the stalls. Asked for their reaction all of them said that they never thought of these things because it was the first time that there was a fire accident in the APMC yard. One of the stall owners said that to rebuild the shop it would cost them at least Rs.2.50 lakh. With an uncertain future staring them in the face, all of them are hoping for some assistance from the APMC or even political leaders.

Claims to be verified

Mandi Police personnel told SOM that they have to verify the claims being made by shop owners. They have to first conduct mahazar and find out how many crates of fruits were there in total in each shop and how many were destroyed. Only then can they come to some conclusion.

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