Fire reduces 131-year-old city school to ashes 

Shillong, May 21: An early morning fire on Sunday reduced a131-year-old city school to ashes.

The heritage Khasi-Jaintia Presbyterian Girls’ Higher Secondary School at Mission Compound in the city was completely gutted.


The incident took place after 2 am , the neighbours said.

The traditional Assam type building of the school established in 1931 had served the educational needs of students across Khasi-Jaintia Hills.

The cause of the fire is yet to ascertained.

Short circuit is unlikely as there was load shedding throughout the night.

The SP, fire and emergency services, Darwin Sangma said that a report on the incident will be ready only on Monday and the cause of the fire incident is yet to be known.

He said since there was another fire incident at a residential building at Nongmensong, it took time to deploy the fire service personnel on time at the school. The delay in refilling water after dousing the fire at Nongmensong was another issue.

Eight fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the fire.

During a visit to the school site on Sunday afternoon, it was noticed that atleast three fire service personnel were stilll on the job.

Records and official papers of the school and furnitures were gutted and nothing could be retrieved.

Only some concrete structures remained untouched by the devastating flames.

The boarders of the school have already left as it will take time to resume classes.

When approached, the principal of the school sent a messenger who said that a meeting will be held on Monday and only after that she would be able to brief the press.

Narrow lanes: Govt yet to have plan 

The fire incident has yet again exposed the government’s lack of preparedness in having an effective fire management system in a hill city like Shillong.

Th narrow lanes in the city have also been a problem while tackling the fire incident.

There were discussions in the past at the official level to purchase small fire tenders considering the nature of the terrain.

A source said as there was darkness due to load shedding, foul play cannot be ruled out as it is a convenient time for the miscreants to take advantage of the situation.

“Only an investigation can ascertain whether there was any foul play”, a police official said.

The fire spread rapidly as there was heavy wind.

A neighbour said though a CCTV was there outside the premises, it is not functional.

CM to provide Rs 1 crore 

“Devastated to see the ruins from the fire incident at Khasi Jaiñtia Presbyterian Girls’ Hr. Sec. School during the inspection this morning. ₹1 Crore will be given through the Chief Minister’s Special Development Fund to rebuild the school”, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma tweeted after visiting the site.

He also added: “Have asked officials to investigate into the matter”.

The chief minister also interacted with the students and community members.

“Relieved that nobody was hurt in the incident. The school has a very special connect with the community & stood tall for over 130 years. This is a very personal loss to the people”, he added.

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