Former Indian cricket team captain MS Dhoni and wicket keeper batsman Dinesh Kartik were among 647 persons rescued from a hotel in Dwarka on Friday morning after a blaze was reported in a mall in the same complex.
A total of 24 cricketers from Jharkhand and Bengal, who are in Delhi to participate in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy, were staying at the hotel when the fire broke out around 6.30am. Sources said Dhoni was staying on the ninth floor.
Officials later said that none of the cricketers or other guests sustained any injuries in the blaze, even as dense smoke engulfed several upper floors of the hotel, forcing an evacuation. The hotel, from which the blaze was reported, is located in Dwarka Sector-10, right opposite the southwest DCP’s office.
According to the police, the blaze was first spotted in a Reliance store located on the first floor of the Pinnacle Mall. The mall is located on the first two floors of the same multi-storey building in which the hotel is situated.
“There was no one in the mall at that hour. The fire was brought to my notice by a man who sleeps in the Reliance store. I immediately informed my superiors who went on to call the fire department,” said Abhishek, a guard at the mall.
The fire department immediately dispatched 30 fire tenders to control the situation. “The fire was contained to two floors of the mall, but dense smoke reached as far up as the eighth floor,” said Atul Garg, chief fire officer, Delhi Fire Services.
Rishiraj Singh, the general manager of the hotel, said his staff showed promptness in evacuating the building immediately. “The fire was in the mall, not in our hotel. But we evacuated the building as a precautionary measure. All our guests are safe,” said Singh.
Outside the hotel, the guests found easy access to Dhoni and other cricketers and used the opportunity to take selfies with them even as fire fighters tried to contain the blaze over the next couple of hours.
“I tried to reach Dhoni to take a picture with him, but the hotel authorities did not allow me to get close to him,” said Sameer, a local who was out for a morning walk when the fire broke out.
The guests were allowed to reenter the hotel three hours later after the fire department confirmed that the situation had been controlled. “The cricketers went for net practice after the fire and they will continue to live in the same hotel,” said Surender Kumar, DCP (South-West).
Fire fighters said they went from room-to-room to ensure all the guests had been rescued safely. “The hotel had fire safety clearance. We will need to probe why the blaze could not be immediately controlled despite the safety norms in place. We have begun the electrical and mechanical inspection of the mall,” said a senior police officer.
The trigger behind the blaze remained unknown at the time of filing this report.