A preliminary investigation indicated that 13 shops, including a tea stall, were damaged by welding in the furniture market on Sector 53/54.
The fire soon spread, with more combustible materials stored on the market, which is practically a furniture manufacturing facility, but without any fire safety measures.
Named the city’s largest furniture market, the site boasts 117 stores operated by makeshift tin sheds.
“Tin shed stores are 300 feet long and store thin, colored, mattresses, clothing, saw dust and ply sheets, which help spread the fire quickly. In the name of fire safety, all stores have fire extinguishers, ”sources from the fire department are preparing a report on the incident.
Although fire hazards are abundant in the market, authorities cannot issue fire-safety NOCs to stores because these are illegal and encroach on public land. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued an injunction following the request of the shopkeepers, but the shops cannot be removed.
Meanwhile, the team at the Center for Science Laboratory visited the site to make sure it was a case of fire. “If a report from CFSL points towards foul play, appropriate action will be taken, including FIR registration,” a senior police official said.