A house was gutted in a major fire in close proximity to the popular German Bakery at Ourem-Palolem on Saturday morning.
While Canacona Fire Station officer Namdev Parwar estimated the property loss at about Rs 2.5 lakh, family members of the house owner, Antonio Fernandes, claimed that the loss could exceed Rs 12 lakh.
It is learnt that the fire was first noticed at around 9.30 am and the sons, who run German Bakery in the same compound, were busy at the bakery when they were alerted of the fire by some adjacent businessmen.
Some foreign tourists who were sipping their morning tea and breakfast at the German Bakery left the premises in a hurry, as the flames engulfed the nearby house.
Locals tried to douse the flames by throwing water and sand in buckets, the onlookers awaited for a fire brigade to reach the site.
A candle lit at the altar of the house is believed to have started the fire, even as Parwar has asked the electricity department to verify if a short circuit could have led to the fire.
Panic stricken family members desperately tried to salvage valuables from the house, before they were advised to evacuate from the house.
Meanwhile, Canacona Assistant Station Fire Officer M G S Lolayekar claimed he was manhandled and abused by an unknown resident while fire fighting operations were underway.
“I was manhandled and verbally abused by an unknown person, after we were blamed for reaching late to the site,” Lolayekar told Herald.
“I can understand the people’s anxiety in the heat of the moment, but signaling me out during the firefighting operation is unwarranted,” he added.
Parwar, however, downplayed the incident and said there could have been some anxious moments at the site.
“Such incidents happen when tempers run high. There are no hard feelings as we consider it part of our duty where we touch or accidentally hit each other, especially during quick operations,” Parwar said. [H]