Two children were charred to death and six persons were injured after a major fire — this summer’s first major blaze — gutted more than 400 hutments at a slum cluster in northwest Delhi on Friday afternoon, Delhi Fire Services (DFS) officials said.
According to fire officials, the blaze broke out around 1:30 pm and spread across half of the 800-odd slum dwellings at Bawana’s JJ Colony cluster, after what residents claimed was ‘a loud explosion’, within as little as 15 minutes.
“In the beginning, around eight fire tenders were deployed. However, plastic material, electrical cables and other inflammable material present at the spot fed the inferno. It was then declared a medium category fire and a dozen more tenders were rushed to the spot,” said a DFS official.
Officials said the fire was controlled after a little over two hours. Eight injured persons were rushed to the Maharishi Valmiki hospital where two children, two-year-old Manish and five-year-old Sartaj, were declared dead.
Five of them were discharged after being administered minor first aid. One Mohammad Shiraj, 48, was declared critical and referred to Lok Nayak hospital after having sustained 40 per cent burn injuries. A DFS official was among those who were injured.
“As the fire broke out in the afternoon, the men and women were away at work in the adjacent industrial area. Only children and old people were at their homes,” said Mohammad Arshad.
“Our belongings, our homes and even our cattle have been destroyed. This could have been avoided had the fire tenders reached us earlier.”
After fire-fighting operations were over, angry residents pelted stones at the police and DFS vehicles after which a case of rioting was registered at the Narela police station. No one was, however, arrested.
Meanwhile, Bawana MLA Surender Sharma staged a march to the Delhi chief minister’s house with area residents to protest against government’s plan to acquire land for Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) housing project.