Bhaderwah, Apr 20: A camp office of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and 45 shops were gutted in a massive fire in Doda district, officials said today.
The main market of Bhatyas in Bhalessa area was badly hit in the devastating blaze that broke out late last night.
No one was injured in the midnight fire. However, property worth millions was reduced to ashes.
Police said that around 12 AM, main market Bhatyas was caught in the fire.
Police and locals began dousing the flames, which was spreading rapidly in the market as all the adjoining shops and other structures were mostly made of dry Cedar and Pine wood.
"We informed the fire-tenders at Thathri and Gandoh simultaneously as Bhatyas market is at the distance of 16 km from both the stations. The operation to extinguish the fire with the help of locals started at 12:30 AM," said Sub- Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Gandoh, Sunny Gupta.
"The fire was controlled only at 5:30 AM in the morning, but by then, 45 structures were completely damaged," he said.
A camp office of the SSB was also gutted in the fire.
No one was injured in the incident, the officer said.
"Police have started an investigation into the incident as this is the third major fire incident in as many months and foul play also could not be ruled out," Gupta added.
People alleged sabotage and demanded a high-level inquiry into the repeated fire incidents in Bhalesa area in which they claim properties worth crores have been damaged and hundreds of people left jobless.
On April 15, 26 shops and eight residential houses were gutted in a similar midnight fire incident in Gandoh market, 16 km from Bhatyas and on February 10, four shops, two residential houses were damaged in another fire incident at Malikpura in Gandoh.
Meanwhile, Governor N N Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed their grief over the fire incident at Bhatyas Bhalessa in Doda district.
The Governor has advised restoration work to commence forthwith for restoration of the damaged properties and provision of relief, an official statement said.
The Chief Minister has also directed the district administration Doda to extend all possible help to the fire victims by way of providing temporary shelters and items of daily use.