Nearly 50 shops were destroyed after a fire broke out at the Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, on Friday night, the Hindustan Times reported, quoting police. Fire and emergency services personnel contained the flames after a five-hour operation. The temple was reopened to devotees on Saturday morning, Madurai collector Veera Raghava Rao told NDTV.
Several birds died in the temple’s tower, but no human casualties or injuries were reported.
Preliminary investigation showed that the fire broke out late Friday because of an electrical short-circuit in one of the shops near the temple’s “thousand pillar” hall, PTI reported. “The fire was controlled before it spread to the main temple area,” Rao said. An investigation is underway.
Rao said a special team had been formed to look into the impact of the fire on the temple, especially the 7,000-square-foot Vasantharayar Mandapam.
Devotees alleged that the temple was vulnerable to an incident of this nature as no fire safety measures were taken to prevent it. “No modern fire safety system with sprinklers have been installed at the temple,” Rao said. “We have a dedicated fire engine stationed in the complex.”
Sculptures in the hall did not suffer damage because the temple staff and the fire personnel intervened in time, authorities told PTI.
Some religious groups protested, demanding that shops be moved out of the temple premises.