Tragedy averted, 40 saved from burning house in east Delhi
A repeat of Anaj Mandi-type fire tragedy was averted in east Delhi’s Krishna Nagar in the early hours of Thursday after a host of “favourable factors” allowed Delhi Fire Services officials to rescue at least 40 people trapped in a burning four-storey building.
A congested neighbourhood, an overcrowded building whose ground floor served as a godown for plastic waste material and dense smoke fanning out to all floors were all recipes for disaster reminiscent of December 8 Anaj Mandi blaze that left 45 persons dead, said Atul Garg, director of Delhi Fire Services.
“But right information by the caller, quick thinking by the fire fighters and open gates helped us prevent any casualties on Thursday,” added Garg.
The fire department said that the four-storey building in Krishna Nagar, which caught fire on Thursday, was constructed over a 150 square yard plot and consisted a godown for waste plastic materials on its ground floor.
Nearly 50 people lived in the building’s rooms and halls on the remaining three floors.
“These were mostly workers living on rent. The building is illegal, like all others in this neighbourhood,” said Garg.
The call regarding the fire was first made at 2.10am on Thursday.
“The caller informed that there was a godown on the ground floor and dozens of residents were stuck on the upper floors,” said Garg. The absence of similar detailed initial information in the Anaj Mandi case or the more recent blaze in Prem Nagar had resulted in casualties.
Santosh Kumar, station officer of Mandawali fire station, said that the absence of traffic at that time of the morning ensured that three fire tenders reached the spot in less than five minutes. “The building’s door was open, but a mountain of plastic waste piled in the ground floor was burning. Dense smoke had engulfed all the top floors,” said Kumar.
There were 18 fire fighters who divided in two teams and took part in the rescue operation. “One team was tasked with fighting the fire and preventing more smoke from building up. The other team sprung into action to rescue people who had either managed to get to the terrace or were trapped in the rooms,” said Kumar.
Garg said that somehow all the occupants of the building were awake by the time the fire tenders reached. “We didn’t have to waste valuable time waking people up or breaking open doors,” he said.
Kumar said that only a handful of occupants had managed to escape to the terrace. “Most others, including three children and two women, were in the rooms and halls on the three floors. They were screaming for help and we couldn’t understand anything. The smoke on the staircase and the darkness all around prevented them from escaping,” he said.
The fire fighters who had managed to get to the top of the building put on appropriate gear before entering the
smoke-filled building to rescue people.
“We rescued at least 40 people from the building. None of them were unconscious or needed hospitalisation. They were all coughing badly though. We offered them water,” said Kumar.
“The circumstances were so similar to the Anaj Mandi case. Had the rescue been delayed by even a few more minutes, many people would have perished,” Kumar added.
Karnataka Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu B Chavan appealed to people not to sacrifice cattle for the Bakrid festival while warning of stern action against the offenders. The Minister emphasised the Cow Slaughter Prohibition Act has already been in force in Karnataka. Generally, during the Bakrid festival, there is a tradition of sacrifice, for which livestock such as cow, ox, calf and camels are also used, said Chavan.
Chandigarh Chandigarh administrator Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday gave in-principle approval for a synthetic running track at Sukhna Lake. UT adviser Dharam Pal, said, “The Chandigarh Heritage Conservation Committee had earlier given its go-ahead for the proposal. Next, the detailed plan and cost estimates will be prepared; and then, tenders will be floated for the project.” A UT official said the proposed track is part of the administration's efforts to give Sukhna Lake a major facelift.
The National Highway Authority of India has approved two over-bridges, which are likely to reduce travel time between Kalka and Zirakpur and alleviate traffic jams on the stretch by next year. NHAI has already floated tenders for the 60-m wide over-bridges, which will be constructed at a cost of ₹50 crore. It has invited bids for the “construction and site improvement of the four-lane national highway (NH-22) on the Zirakpur-Parwanoo junction.”
Fifteen students had a narrow escape after their school bus skidded into a waterlogged open drain in Daulat Singhwala village in Phabat area of Zirakpur. The bus, which was ferrying students of Blue Bird High School, Sector 16, Panchkula, was making way for another school bus when it skidded into the overflowing drain. The bus tilted in the drain, but passersby and parents were able to rescue the children through the driver's window.
Tricity residents woke up to heavy rainfall for the second time this month on Wednesday. Three people went missing after a taxi, shuttling two commuters, was swept away in a flashflood in the Patiala-Ki-Rao rivulet as the driver attempted to cross the causeway in Tanda Village near Nayagaon. The owner of the vehicle, Rakesh Kumar told the police that Gaurav had called him saying two people, travelling to Baddi, had booked his cab.