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Mumbai building fire: 10-year-old’s safety tips save lives of a dozen people

The student of Class VI of Don Bosco School in suburban Matunga recalled and put to use the fire safety tips she had learnt during a school project in Class III, which ensured her family and others remained safe until the fire brigade personnel arrived.

mumbai Updated: Aug 22, 2018 22:36 IST
Steffy Thevar
Steffy Thevar
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Mumbai fire,Mumbai building,Building fire
Zen Sadavarte stays with her parents and a brother on the 16th floor in the 17-storey Crystal Tower building at Parel in central Mumbai. (ANI screengrab/Twitter)

As smoke billowed from the 12th floor of Crystal Tower in Mumbai’s Parel on Wednesday morning and panicked residents ran helter-skelter for help, a 10-year-old girl held her nerves. Her alertness and presence of mind helped save several lives from a fire that claimed four lives and left 27 people injured.

Zen Gunratan Sadavarte put to use the training she had received from her teachers on fire safety and what to do in case one breaks out, and this helped save the lives of not just her parents but others on Crystal Tower. “I was not scared of the fire, I was rather worried about losing my data,” she said.

Her mother Jayashri said when the fire broke out, smoke engulfed the house on the 16th floor of the building, shrouding everything in a black cloak of soot.

“We tried to move to the adjoining room and even to the balcony but there was heavy smoke all around and we were not even able to get out through the lobby. We had almost given up hope and were holding hands. However my daughter who is curious to know about various things guided us through the fire and smoke to escape. Thanks to her I am alive today with only burn injuries on my face.”

Zen said she had researched earlier about the correct safety techniques in case of calamities such as flood or fire. “When I saw that my parents were unable to breathe, I took charge. I did not fear the fire. I just asked my parents to wet any piece of cloth that they got and cover their nose and mouth. Finally they could relax and we started moving out. There were also our neighbours with us who could also come out with us.”

Zen added as they moved down, she instructed her neighbours from the 15th and 14th floor to use the same technique so that they did not suffocate due to the smoke.

“I also asked my family to crawl instead of walking. I switched off all the lights and shut the gas connection. I remember my teacher told me that in such situations you should not get near electrical connections and gas cylinders. The prime thing is to remain calm,”added Zen.

Zen’s Father Gunratan Sadavarte, said his daughter’s awareness saved about 14-15 lives. “She has always been an alert and aware kid, more like an activist. What she did today was just like a responsible citizen.”

The fire brigade officials were full of praise for the young girl. “We rescued that girl and what she did is a commendable job. We teach residents in high rise building about the does and don’ts which include the exact things that the girl did. It is important for grown-ups to learn from kids who are more aware…All that she did are the basic norms for firefighting,” said chief fire officer PS Rahangdale.

First Published: Aug 22, 2018 20:21 IST