New Delhi, May 14 (PTI) Unavailability of firefighting systems, no alternative escape route and rapid spread of fire due to presence of highly combustible materials led to higher casualties in the tragedy at the building in outer Delhi’s Mundka, senior fire officials said on Saturday.
The massive blaze in the four-storey building, which an official suspected to be built “illegally”, claimed 27 lives and left 12 injured, even as police said 29 people are still missing. They said the death toll could increase to 30.
According to fire department, it took over 120 firefighters and 30 fire tenders to douse off the blaze which started from the first floor of the building and spread to the subsequent floors. Maximum casualties were reported from the second floor, they said.
Atul Garg, director, Delhi Fire Service, said the building neither had a fire No Objection Certificate nor did it have clearance from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
“The building did not have any fire safety equipment and a proper route map approved by the authorities concerned. It seems the entire building was illegal. Most of the bodies were recovered from second floor. We searched the third floor today. The rescue operation is over,” he said.
When asked about allegations of delay in fire tenders reaching the spot, Garg said, “In case if there has been a delay, I would not deny it considering the traffic snarls and a fully packed congested area where the building was situated.” He said the building had a single narrow entry and exit point, which he said could be the reason for the high number of casualties.
“The building had a single escape route, which is the reason for so many casualties. Twenty seven people have died,” he added.
Officials suspected that an explosion in an air-conditioner may have triggered the fire.
Another official claimed that even though the fire was doused within six hours, the spread of fire was faster to an extent that it started from the first floor and quickly spread to the subsequent floors.
“By the time people could even respond, the fire had already engulfed the place but the staircases did not have sufficient width for rescue or escape,” he said.
“Highly combustible items such as CCTVs and cameras are also made of plastic materials, and these catch fire quickly, just like petrol. Also, there is a possibility of human detection failure and lack of awareness about a fire trigger at the very initial stage. This could have also led to later people jumping off the building and trying to rescue themselves using ladders,” the officer explained.
The first and second floors of the building housed the godown and office of the CCTV assembly company Impex private limited. The third floor housed a WiFi assembling firm while the fourth floor was residential, fire officials said.
“The cooling process has been completed. However, two fire tenders are present at the spot for precautionary measure as the building has become dangerous,” an official said. PTI AMP CJ CJ
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