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Sukhna Lake Goes Up in Flames Oct 08

Sukhna Lake on Fire

Sukhna Lake on Fire

It was virtually a “towering inferno” at Sukhna Lake late this evening. One of the city’s best-known “beauty” spots, the elegant glass-structured “watch tower”, on an island in the lake, went up in flames even as the city’s administration watched helplessly.

No one was injured in the mishap, but the structure reportedly suffered immense damage.

Situated in the middle of the lake, the burning watchtower was a literal reminder of the 1974 Hollywood flick, the Towering Inferno, starring Steve Mcqueen and Paul Newmen. Though the difference in the structures of the two fires, the multi-storeyed building in the movie and the watchtower at the Sukhna Lake, was obvious, the helplessness of the administration to deal with the situation was almost similar.

As the burning watchtower went up in smoke, fire officials, who were unable to reach the spot to quell the flames, saw the structure getting charred and damaged. Till the time of the filing of this report at 11 pm, the fire, though described as under control, was being stroked and fanned by the winds gushing in from the hills.

While MC officials were reluctant to say anything and maintained that the cause of the fire would be known only after “investigations”, sources in the department claimed that this could well be the result of short-circuit in wirings of the lighting decorations being done there.

For the late evening walkers at the lake, the fire initially went unnoticed. Suspecting the low flames emanating from the site as part of the “puja” ceremonies associated with ‘karva chauth’, many people who saw it chose to ignore it. However, it was former mayor, Pradeep Chhabra, who saw flames and smoke billowing out of the tower at about 7.15 p.m. and he immediately informed the fire department.

The fire tenders that reached the spot were of no help, as they could not reach the structure. The administration virtually had nothing in its “arsenal” to deal with the situation. “They should have a helicopter,” quipped one of the hundreds of bystanders there but, alas, that wasn’t to be.

“It just happened in seconds,” said Ajit Kumar, a regular walker on the lake. “I was at the 600 m mark, when I heard loud sound of shattering glass. I looked around and was aghast seeing the watch tower up in flames,” he said, adding that it took him time to realise what had happened.

Anita, another walker, said she saw the flames when she was at the regulator end. “It was scary,” she said, adding that by the time she reached the CITCO café, there was a huge chaos with policemen and firemen moving around aimlessly. Fire Officer JK Kang said the fire-fighting operation was still going on and nothing could be said on the extent of the damage or the cause.

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