Four dead in fire at East Delhi building | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times

Four dead in fire at East Delhi building

Mar 15, 2024 05:54 AM IST

13 others were injured, of which four — including a three-month-old baby girl — are critically injured

Four members of a family suffocated to death and at least 13 others were injured after a massive fire engulfed a five-storey building in a congested neighbourhood in east Delhi’s Shastri Nagar on Thursday morning, fire officials said.

Delhi Police officers at the building in Sarojini Park, Shastri Nagar on Thursday. (Sanjeev Verma/HT photos)
Delhi Police officers at the building in Sarojini Park, Shastri Nagar on Thursday. (Sanjeev Verma/HT photos)

The officials added that four of the 13 injured are critical — including a three-month-old baby girl — and are admitted to the ICU of a government hospital in east Delhi, adding that around 30 people were in the building when the fire broke out.

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According to police, all four deceased died of asphyxiation. “Preliminary observation by forensic experts revealed that sparks in the electric wires in the parking space may be the reason behind the fire. All four people died of suffocation after inhaling toxic fumes. We have registered a case of negligent conduct with respect to machinery and death by negligence under sections 285, 337, 304A and 427 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against unknown people at the Geeta Colony police station,” said deputy commissioner of police (Shahdara) Surendra Chaudhary.

The blaze broke out in a building with nine residential flats and originated in the stilt parking of the building. One car, five two-wheelers and two bicycles that were parked on the ground floor were scorched, the fire officials said, adding that the presence of fuel in the parked vehicles may have led to further incineration. Except for the ground floor that housed the parking and one house, there were two flats on each of the four floors above it.

Delhi Fire Services director Atul Garg said that nine fire tenders with over 25 personnel were pressed into action. Garg flagged that since the building was in a congested lane where cars and other vehicles were parked, the firemen struggled to bring the fire tenders to the spot which subsequently delayed their response time.

What also hampered the rescue operation was the fact that the only entry and exit to the building was located in the rear portion of the parking, which had by then been consumed by the blaze and shrouded by smoke, officials said.

The four deceased were identified as Manoj Shah, 30, his wife Suman Shah, 30, and their nieces Sujata Shah, 3, and Shristi Shah, 5. The sisters’ father and Manoj’s brother — Rakesh Shah, 37 — his wife Baby Shah, 33 and the youngest of the Shah brothers, Nandu Shah, 25 were among the critically injured. The three-month-old baby, Isra, who lived on the first floor with her parents, is also undergoing treatment.

The Shah family lived in a two-bedroom rented flat on the ground floor in the rear portion of the parking. The three brothers ran a toy manufacturing unit in the Gharoli area in Delhi, locals said. The deceased were found in two rooms in the ground floor flat.

DCP Chaudhary said police received a call at 5.22am regarding the fire in a building at Sarojini Park in Shastri Nagar after which local police, fire tenders, three ambulances and police vans, rushed to the spot.

“The parking was on the ground floor and the residences were on the four floors above it. Many people were trapped inside the building because the only way to get out was the staircase. We doused the flames and rescued some occupants through a ladder that we placed outside the building. Those who had already reached the terrace used the adjacent buildings to come out,” said divisional fire officer Manoj Kumar Sharma, who led the firefighting-cum-rescue operation.

The fire was brought under control in an hour and people were rescued from all the floors and the terrace. The firefighters used their ladder to bring down some occupants who were trapped on the first two floors and were standing in the balconies, officials said. Police said that the main iron gate on the ground floor was also closed and it led the fire to spread upwards through the staircase.

The 10 injured people were occupants of the first, second and third floors. At least seven of them had burns on their hands as they touched the metal railing of the staircase while climbing to reach the terrace.

Survivors, neighbours recount horror

Kamal Singh, 46, a resident of the third floor of the building said his family was sleeping when the fire broke out. “My wife Babita woke me up due to the smoke after which we woke up our sons — Kartik Singh, 13 and Dev Singh, 11 — so we could escape,” said Singh.

Singh said that there was complete chaos after that. “When I opened the main door, I heard people screaming. We tried to rush downstairs but failed as flames and smoke were coming up. I was worried for my younger brother, Doori Lal Singh, and his family because they lived in the flat below. We rushed to the terrace... We were relieved only when firefighters rescued us and I found them alive,” said Singh. The occupants of the remaining floors, including Singh’s aunt Meena Devi, 50, and her son Shanu Singh, 21, rushed to the terrace. The two families living on the first floor were also trapped.

A resident of the area, Vicky Kumar, 29, said that the tragedy could have been bigger had the fire department not controlled the blaze on time. However, he alleged that the fire tenders took half an hour to reach after the first distress call was made.

“The families living on the second floor tried to come out by breaking their glass window. We asked them not to jump as the height was more than 20 feet and the flames were spreading upwards through the front portion. At least three unconscious people were given cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the lane. Only one, named Prashant Kumar living on the first floor flat, responded and survived,” said Kumar.

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