It took all of 30 minutes to cause an irreparable loss to a family, this is how a relative of the Khans, who lost nine of their kin, in a fire at their shop at Juhu galli in Andheri (West) described Thursday morning.
The family of 12 had woken up around 5am for their morning prayers and was relaxing when the ground floor caught fire. They lived on the first floor, while their shop was on the ground floor.
Muzam Khan, 65, was the first to react to the loud noise. “He shouted out to his son, Imtiyaz, 34, asking him to check what had happened,” said a relative, waiting outside the post-mortem centre at Dr RN Cooper Medical College and General Hospital, where the bodies of eight members of the family were brought. The ninth person, Sabiya Khan, 28, succumbed to 45% burns at Kasturba Medical College.
Imtiyaz and his younger brother, Nizamuddin, 22, saw thick smoke emanating from the shop. They rushed back, jumped on to the neighbour’s building and went out to fetch an electrician. “The only way to go out of their building was through the medical store,” said the relative.
The fire was massive before they could find any help. “Nobody had no idea what was happening,” said a neighbour.
Imtiyaz, Nizamuddin and their father survived the blaze, but others weren’t as lucky. Imtiyaz lost his wife and three children.
Neighbours, who helped control the fire, said the family had been living there for more than 25 years. “We have never seen such a big fire in this area,” said Abdul Majir, who lives in the lane.
Despite the acute water shortage, the local residents got water from their houses to douse the fire. “We get water only once a day. Somehow we managed to put out the fire,” said Mohammed Ali Nagori, who called the fire brigade. “The fire brigade took nearly half-an-hour to reach the spot. By then, the fire was under control,” he said.