Shimla: British-era Grand Hotel gutted in fire, no casualties

The Mayo Block, the VVIP wing of the historic Grand Hotel which is part of the holiday home of the Union government in Shimla, was gutted in a fire which broke out early on Monday. Three floors of the recently-renovated Mayo Block was gutted in the fire. The fire was doused at around 3 am on Tuesday morning.

Sources said that the blaze began at 12.45 AM in the part of the hotel opposite the historic Bantony Castle heritage building some 200 meters from the Scandal Point on the famous Mall Road in Shimla.

“The fire incident was first noticed by the constables on night duty and they immediately reported it the fire department, There was no staff in the building when the fire broke,” Shimla’s superintendent of police Omapati Jamwal said.

Fire tenders were rushed from Mall Road, Chotta Shimla and Boileaugang fire stations. However, due to the shortage of water, the blaze could not be controlled for several hours.

Six rooms were completely burnt down in the fire and a few other rooms on the floors of this palatial building, which was constructed during the British era, were partially damaged owing to the wooden structure. The building was recently renovated and new furniture was also put in place. The police had to break open the locks of the gate to get into the building.

The fire tenders had difficulty in reaching the building because of narrow roads and the low water pressure in their hydrants added to the problem.

“We are just ascertaining the cause of the fire,” Shimla’s deputy commissioner Rajeshwar Goyal, who reached the spot to supervise the fire fighting operations, said.

Goyal added that the police are also probing the cause of fire at the building, which houses many central government offices and is managed by the Central Public Works Department.

Shimla Deputy Commissioner Rajeshwar Goel said the fire was stopped from spreading into the adjacent buildings as the firemen, army and police personnel assisted in dousing the flames.

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