Four employees of an e-commerce firm choked to death when a fire engulfed their second-floor office in Ghaziabad on Saturday while a fifth jumped out of a window and died after landing head first.
The building that housed the Indiamart office had no fire safety equipment, firefighters told HT. The victims were trapped as the fire spread from the first floor to the second and the only exit to the roof was locked, said HS Malik, deputy director, fire department (Meerut range).
Neighbours who tried to rescue the trapped said the firemen arrived 30-40 minutes after they were called.
This is the latest fire tragedy to hit the Capital after last month’s massive blaze that completely destroyed the National Museum of Natural History and all its priceless collections. Hundreds of fires, big and small, have kept the fire department busy all summer.
Six Indiamart employees survived Saturday morning’s blaze after jumping out their office window. “Five of them suffered superficial burns and minor injuries. Five fire department personnel, including the fire safety officer, were also hospitalised with smoke inhalation and other injuries,” said Deepak Garg, an administrator at the local Gargi Hospital.
The building in Raj Nagar, a well-to-do residential neighbourhood, also houses a boutique on the ground floor and a property consultant’s office on the first. Officials said a short circuit in an airconditioner or inverter may have started the fire.
“We arrived at the office, where we work for internet promotion of companies, at 9.30am. We sensed smoke coming from the stairs and when we looked out the door, the smoke and fire leapt at us. We were holed in, crying for help,” said Prashant Sharma, one of the survivors.
“Seven of us jumped out of a window in order to get to the roof of an adjacent house. The other four couldn’t escape.”
India mart said in a statement, “The four employees trapped inside the office and the one who fell head on were taken to nearby hospitals but declared dead on arrival. The Indiamart senior management and national heads are at the hospital with the families.”
Police identified the dead as Piyush Goel, Hemant Pratap Singh, Ritam Dwivedi and Chandra Prakash Tyagi — all residents of Ghaziabad —and Puneet Mishra from Lucknow.
“We put up a ladder on our roof, connecting it to the burning second floor, and saved at least six people,” said a neighbour, Surinder Singh Walia. “We also sprayed water on the building from our pump. But we couldn’t save the others. The fire tenders arrived 30-40 minutes late. I even called 100 but no one picked up.”
It took four fire tenders and 20 firemen over an hour to douse the blaze, which gutted both the first and second floors. District magistrate Vimal Kumar Sharma has ordered a magisterial inquiry.