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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

Two wedding venues gutted in fire, guests rescued in time

A senior DDA official said, “The DDA gives the land for such events. The person or organisation that books the site has to obtain a clearance from the fire department. The DDA doesn’t check for fire clearance, as it can be given only after the temporary structure is erected.”

delhi Updated: Apr 17, 2019 06:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Chief fire officer Atul Garg said no fire clearance is required at wedding venues as per the rules — the organisers are required to make fire safety arrangements on their own.
Chief fire officer Atul Garg said no fire clearance is required at wedding venues as per the rules — the organisers are required to make fire safety arrangements on their own.(HT Photo)
         

A little past midnight Tuesday, a major fire broke out at a wedding pandal in northwest Delhi’s Netaji Subhash Place and it soon spread to another wedding venue nearby, incinerating furniture and decor in both venues, apart from gutting three cars and other goods worth several lakhs of rupees, police said.

Police said more than 500 people, including guests, were attending a wedding at the first venue when the fire broke out. While a majority of them rushed out on seeing smoke from a portion of the pandal, at least two dozen guests, mostly the elderly, were rescued by police personnel from Netaji Subhash Place police station.

A Delhi Police head constable, one firefighter and a catering employee suffered minor burns during the fire and rescue operation. At least two cooking gas cylinders exploded in the fire. A total of 25 fire tenders and as many firefighters were pressed into service to douse the blaze, which started around 12.20am. The firefighters took around five hours to douse the flames, the police said.

Delhi fire department officials suspect that the fire started from a short-circuit and it rapidly engulfed the wedding venue and the adjacent pandal, which was vacant at that time. They said that the temporary wedding venues and their interior decorations were made using rods, wood, cloth and other decorative items. Despite having so much flammable material, no fire safety arrangement was put in place by pandal owners. The pandals were erected on Delhi Development Authority (DDA) land.

A senior DDA official said, “The DDA gives the land for such events. The person or organisation that books the site has to obtain a clearance from the fire department. The DDA doesn’t check for fire clearance, as it can be given only after the temporary structure is erected.”

Chief fire officer Atul Garg said no fire clearance is required at wedding venues as per the rules — the organisers are required to make fire safety arrangements on their own. “No such arrangement was found there,” he said.

“The policemen carried a few guests on their shoulders. Head constable Ravinder suffered burns in his arms and legs and fell unconscious. A fireman was also injured during the operation while a catering staff was trapped in the blaze and suffered minor burns. All three were admitted to a nearby hospital and were discharged after medical attention,” deputy commissioner of police (northwest) Vijyanta Arya, said.

Garg said the fire control room was informed about the fire at 12.20am, after which 25 fire engines were rushed to the spot. “The fire was of medium category and spread rapidly because of strong winds. Fireman Satish was injured,” Garg said.

“There was a stampede-like situation as guests and others panicked and ran for their lives. Many fell in their bid to escape. Some women lost their jewellery and other valuables. Over 50 cars were parked near the venues and were removed immediately. But three cars were gutted,” a police officer said.

DCP Arya said, “A case under IPC Sections 285 (negligence), 336 and 337 (act endangering life) was registered against unknown person(s). An arson expert team will visit the spot to ascertain the cause of fire. Further action will be taken as per its report.”

First Published: Apr 17, 2019 06:42 IST

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