Pune Patil Estate Fire: Short circuit at house started blaze, says police

Updated on Nov 30, 2018 03:51 PM IST

Khadki police have recorded the statement of a resident whose house caught fire due to short circuit in lane number 3 of the slums

A view of the gutted shanties at the Patil Estate slums in Shivajinagar, after it caught fire on Wednesday.(Photo Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
A view of the gutted shanties at the Patil Estate slums in Shivajinagar, after it caught fire on Wednesday.(Photo Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
Hindustan Times, Pune | ByShalaka Shinde

A day after a fire engulfed the Patil Estate slums on the old Mumbai-Pune highway on Wednesday, the police have recorded that a family in lane number 3 has confirmed that it was their house that caught fire which spread at a high speed in the area.

“We have recorded an account from Lahu Chandrakant Dhuble, 55, whose house in lane number 3 was the place where the fire broke out. His two daughters-in-law - Pushpa Vaishali Dhuble and Ashwini Ram Dhuble - were at home and saw the sparks flying from their house. They raised an alarm but the fire spread across fast before they could do anything,” said senior police inspector RN Mohite of Khadki police station where a fire incident report was registered in the matter.

Prashant Ranpise, chief fire officer, said, “One of the local resident from lane 3 in Patil Estate is claiming that the fire started first at their house through a short circuit.”

More than 100 shanties were gutted after a major fire broke out at the Patil Estate slum as fire brigade pressed in service 20 water tankers and an equal number of fire tenders to douse the fire on Wednesday.

A report from the fire department is still awaited.

“The fire started from an electricity pole. Then the two houses around the pole caught fire and by the time we all ran out, the cylinders started bursting. We could hear the blasts,” said Salma Shaikh, a resident of lane 3 and a waste picker.

On Thursday the administration carried out a panchanama of shanties gutted in the fire, even as the survey of the last four of the eight affected lanes of the slum was pending.

The number of damaged houses in the incident has crossed 100, according to officials who were recording the damage in the incident.

“It is not possible to give a figure right now as the people are still recording panchnamas. The number had definitely crossed 90 (as estimated on Wednesday). Once all the lanes are complete, we will put it together the figures and we can give a number by tomorrow (Thursday),” said Geeta Dlavi, tehsildar.

The Pune collector’s office had deployed 28 officials to collect detailed information about the damage caused in the fire in each house that was affected. The officials, in pairs, went to the interiors of the affected area.

The accounts will be a part of official documents - panchnama - which will form the basis of the extent of the damage which will further be submitted to the home department.

The officials went through eight of the ten lanes of Patil Estate and asked for government-issued identity proof of the owners of the houses which were gutted.

While most of them had lost all documents in the fire, some came up with burnt remnants of Aadhaar cards, voter ID cards and ration cards.

“Nobody was home when the incident happened. Some relative staying nearby took the cylinder out of our house and kept it under the bridge (Vakdewadi flyover), but it got stolen. We had filled an entire box of oil for the month, which was charred in the incident. Also, jewellery, some thousand rupees, documents and clothes were charred in the incident,” said, Sangita Shinde, 45, as she looked at the burnt food grains and kitchen supplies in the skeletal structure of her house in lane 6.

“We have no idea where the fire began. But sometime afternoon, we heard a commotion and the moment we stepped out, we saw the cylinder in nearby house burst. So we left everything and ran towards the road. When we returned around 6 pm, we came back to see our house gutted,” said, Kamala Mohan Gunge, 50, who sat on the threshold of her house, the only thing that was remaining.

Barely four-years-old Aman Dhaware walked through the corridors of the government school, where his elder siblings studied and he is too young to attend, in Pune municipal corporation colony, as his family members went back to Patil Estate for registration. Aman remained blissfully unaware of where his house had disappeared.

However, Ansh Shamal Dhaware(6), sat on the low kitchen counter of his house - the only standing structure of his house - and was aware of the reality but could not comprehend the implications of it.

Meanwhile, no casualties were reported in the incident, but a fire officer, Subhash Khade, sustained injuries fighting the blaze that erupted at 1 pm, and was brought under control by 4 pm.

Victims refuse to leave charred shanties, despite alternate arrangements by PMC

After the major fire at Patil Estate slums on the old Mumbai-Pune highway people chose to stay in their shanties in spite of arrangements made by the Pune municipal corporation (PMC) in a nearby school. Over 100 homes of people were gutted in a major fire on Wednesday, although no casualties were reported. However, the condition of the people living in those slums continues to deteriorate on the second day.

Alternate arrangements for the victims have been made by the civic body in the nearby PMC-run schools; however, over 80 per cent of the people have chosen to stay at their shanties in the slums.

Salma Sheikh, a victim of the slum fire incident while expressing grief, said, “I have been making small financial savings so that I could buy a new place outside of the slum area. However, unfortunately, the blaze took all my savings and gold worth over 10 lakh leaving me with just one pair of clothes.”

“Although the municipal corporation has asked us to move to the schools, I will not leave my home unless a proper investigation is done and some proper arrangements are made,” said, Sheikh adding that I will rather stay on roads than go at the PMC schools.

Radha Hanavate, another victim and a Swach worker from lane number three at Patil Estate, said, “Since yesterday evening, my entire family is staying in open as we have no place left to go. Also, only 72 families were provided with accommodation in the schools on Wednesday whereas many more families are affected by the fire at the slum.”

A woman looks in despair at her burnt-down shanty and belongings at the Patil estate slums on Thursday. (Photo Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
A woman looks in despair at her burnt-down shanty and belongings at the Patil estate slums on Thursday. (Photo Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)

Mahesh Dagade, Pune district collectors official, said, “It is important for the owner to be present while we are doing punchanama because of which people are not willing to go to the provided accommodation. We cannot complete our reports unless we get the owner’s thumbprint. We understand the problems people have to go through, hence, we are working on war footing to complete the process of punchanama.”

Meanwhile, citizens in their individual capacity and many NGO’s in the city have left no stone unturned in helping the affected people by providing food and relief materials like blankets etc.

Nand Kumar Chordia, a resident of Shivajinagar since Wednesday afternoon has distributed nearly about 2,000 plates of food to the people affected in the fire incident. Also, NGO’s like Rashtriya swayamsevak sangh (RSS) and Mashal etc. have distributed blankets, foods, clothes, water and all the needed materials.

Waste collection in Aundh, Baner, Ghole road to be affected for next two days

Over 80 per cent of the people who were affected by the fire which engulfed the Patil Estate slums on the old Pune-Mumbai highway on Wednesday, were waste pickers of the NGO Swach (solid waste collection and handling).

According to Mangal Pagare, CEO of Swach, the incident has left many of these waste pickers homeless, as a result of which, waste collection in areas like Aundh, Baner and Ghole road will be affected for the next two days. The NGO is responsible for the collection and handling of the waste in the entire city apart from the municipal corporation.

Pagare said, “All the Swach waste pickers have become homeless overnight because of the fire. Although the Pune municipal corporation (PMC) is working towards providing accommodation to families in the nearby schools, however, these waste pickers cannot resume their duties given the circumstances.”

She added, “For the next two days, waste collection in Aundh, Baner and Ghole road will not be done and we have requested all the people of the area for their cooperation in this difficult time.” Pagare said that Swach along with the PMC is looking out for options where waste pickers can be hired on contract until the regular Swach waste pickers resume their duties.

The fire at Patil Estate slums broke out at 1 pm on Wednesday and required 20 fire tenders to help douse the blaze. While no one living in the slum was injured, houses were destroyed and hundreds of slum dwellers have been left homeless. Meanwhile, we are also working with the PMC officials on ways to provide additional assistance to the people affected by the fire, said Pagare.

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