Around 100 shops were gutted in a massive fire in the wholesale market of Bhagirath Palace area in Chandni Chowk in New Delhi even as the cooling operations are currently underway, police said on Friday.
No injuries have been reported so far, they said.
Five major buildings got affected during the fire-fighting operations out of which three collapsed, they said.
According to the fire department, a call about the blaze was received at 9.19 pm on Thursday and 40 fire tenders were rushed to the spot.
At present, 22 fire tenders are engaged in the cooling process as the fire has been brought under control after more than 12 hours, a fire department official said.
The fire broke out in a shop in Mahalaxmi Market and soon spread to adjacent ones, all dealing in electrical appliances, officials said.
White smoke billowed high in the sky as the toxic stench of burning plastic and rubber polluted the air.
Director of Delhi Fire Service Atul Garg told PTI, "Fire is under control. Now, 22 fire tenders are working on cooling operations. The cause of the fire is not yet known."
Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Sagar Singh Kalsi said as soon as information about the fire was received, the fire department, NDRF, MCD, reserve force from police rushed to the spot.
Senior officials also reached the site of the incident, he said.
"Every effort was put in to douse the fire. There is no casualty at present. Five major buildings were affected and these housed around 100 shops which got incinerated. Of the five affected buildings, three have collapsed," he added.
Ignoring the intermittent sounds of blasts and policemen warning of boned-out portions of buildings collapsing, dejected traders, who had their noses and mouths covered with handkerchiefs to prevent the stench, waited impatiently to enter their incinerated shops to recover whatever they could.
A trader whose shop was gutted in the blaze sat down in the lane adjacent to one of the burning buildings as he tried to come to terms with the "loss of several crores" that he had suffered.
"Our shop is destroyed. We are waiting for the fire to be extinguished completely but I dont think anything is left... We have suffered a loss of several crores,” Sanjay Kumar said.
Among those eagerly waiting for the fire to die down was Balwinder Singh who has a shop in the building opposite to one of the affected buildings.
"As of now our shop is safe. I got to know about the fire at around 11 pm and my father was in the shop. He told me that our shop is safe but I am here to check," Singh said.
The fire officials said that weak structures, shortage of water and narrow lanes posed a major challenge for them to carry out fire-fighting operations.
Garg had on Thursday tweeted, "Fire in Chandni Chowk. Total 40 fire vehicles and 200-plus fire personnel were deployed. Major concern weak structures, shortage of water and narrow lane, building started collapsing."
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal expressed grief over the incident and said he is taking stock of the situation from the district administration concerned.
"This incident of fire in Bhagirath Palace market of Chandni Chowk late last night is very sad. Since last night, the fire brigade personnel are working hard to douse the flames. I am taking information about this from district administration," he tweeted in Hindi.