Shimla: A devastating fire on Tuesday swept through the British-era Gorton Castle, which houses the office of the Accountant General, reducing two floors of the heritage building to ashes and destroying important records.
The fire started in the five-storey building here around 3 AM and within half an hour, around a dozen tenders rushed to the spot to control the flames.
The firemen fought the blaze for over five hours and finally it was brought under control around 10:30 AM.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh ordered an inquiry into the incident after visiting the building. Singh said he was pained that a large portion of the historic Accountant General office has been gutted.
Principal Accountant General Satish Lamba told reporters that important records of the AG office were destroyed, which may cause delay in placing reports of the AG before the Himachal Pradesh Assembly during the upcoming budget session.
"We had almost finalised the reports for publication but some records have been burnt and hard copies have been destroyed and there could be delay in sending the reports to the state government," he said.
Crores of rupees had been spent on renovation of this heritage building which was built in 1904. Renovation work was on when the fire broke out in the building this morning.
Deputy Commissioner, Shimla, Dinesh Malhotra, who supervised the fire fighting operation, said that two floors of the five-storey building were completely gutted and office records, computers, furniture and other articles were destroyed or damaged in the fire.
The office of Accountant General of India was located in this building till the late 50s when the central government office started shifting to Delhi. The AG`s office of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh continued to function from here till early 80s but presently it was only housing the office of the AG of Himachal Pradesh.