A freak fire in the storeroom of the government-run tuberculosis hospital in this Rajasthan holy town burnt to death a patient on Thursday morning, sparking suspicion that the semi-sedated man was secretly smoking inside.
Hospital superintendent Neeraj Gupta said a short circuit could have sparked the fire but the exact cause ascertained might be known after investigation.
Sources said 49-year-old Nathu Singh, the patient who was admitted to the hospital on May 9 for a chest infection, was a smoker and he possibly sneaked into the storeroom on the ground floor to steal a few puffs early in the morning. Smoking is strictly prohibited inside the hospital.
“Singh from the Alwar Gate area of the city was on sedatives because of his uncontrolled cough. He might have lost consciousness and his cigarette lit the fire,” a source said.
The storeroom was full of foam mattresses and inflammable articles.
Patients and attendants were immediately evacuated when hospital staff saw smoke swirling out of the storeroom.
“I informed the nurse on duty and the fire brigade was called,” hospital attendant Mahendra Sankhla said.
Two fire engines stopped the blaze from spreading but the storeroom was gutted. Singh’s burnt body was found there and handed over to the family after autopsy.
Hospital authorities have ordered an inquiry. “Why was the storeroom left open last night? We will look into how Nathu reached the storeroom from his ward on the second floor,” Gupta said.
Police started a probe after registering a case.