It took the alertness of a 60-year-old grandfather to prevent tragedy at Safdarjung Hospital in the small hours of Monday morning as fire broke out in a nursery housing 14 newborns.
According to Dr B D Athani, medical superintendent at the hospital, there were 10 newborn babies in the nursery and four in the intensive care unit. “As the fire spread, the babies were immediately shifted to Nursery 5. The fire was brought under control swiftly,” said Athani. “There was no loss of life and there was minimal damage to property.”
Among the people who helped douse the fire was a newborn's grandfather. The man, who works as a daily-wage labourer in Darbhanga, Bihar, however, refused to be identified.
“The fire broke out around 3:30am. As soon as we saw smoke billowing out of Nursery 9, we realised there was fire. We had to wake up the watchman who was sleeping outside. Then we broke open the gate and rushed upstairs to douse the fire. Along with the guards, we tried to bring the fire under control with the help of fire extinguishers,” said the grandfather, who was resting at the waiting room when the fire broke out.
“You will always find the watchman sleeping at night. The nursery was engulfed in smoke but we hurriedly swung into action,” the grandfather added.
A mother of newborn twins, who was informed about the fire around 3:30am, could meet them only at 5am. “I have twin babies — a girl and a boy. I was really worried but was told that they were safe. I could meet them early in the morning,” said the mother, Meena Devi, whose husband is an autorickshaw driver.
Atul Garg, deputy chief fire officer (south zone), said five fire engines were pressed into service. “Firemen swung into action and safely rescued all infants and a nurse. The blaze started from an air-conditioner apparently due to a short circuit,” said Garg.