Firemen Hailed As Heroes In Delhi Horror Blaze

Indian flag


Two firemen who rescued 27 people were hailed as heroes Monday after Delhi’s deadliest fire in decades killed 43, prompting outrage that safety regulations were yet again ignored.

The blaze early Sunday ripped through a four-storey building that housed small factory units in the congested lanes of the Old Delhi district while the migrant workers inside were asleep.

Firefighter Rajesh Shukla, who carried out 11 people and was injured in the dangerous operation, said he was shocked by the number of people he found.

“No one in the area informed us that so many people were there in the building, some said there were three or four people trapped inside,” Shukla told the Times of India daily.

“I saw at least 30 people in the room (on the third floor) with most of them sleeping. A few others were dead… We were told that the labourers slept in shifts,” he said.

He added that if the fire brigade had had more information sooner, then “we could have saved more lives”.

On Monday, charred walls and smoke-blackened windows bore a grim testimony to the tragedy that unfolded at the cramped premises.

Locals told AFP that all illegal factories in the area pull down and lock their shutters at night, which gives workers time to flee if police raid the premises.

“But this time it proved fatal for them as a lot of precious time was lost in trying to enter the building,” a local resident said, as officials from the electricity department arrived at the scene.

‘Lost everything’ 

Firefighter Ashish Malik, who managed to carry out 16 people from the blazing building, said they “had to take huge risks” carrying people down the only staircase on a rickety floor.

“We rescued workers by carrying them on our shoulders. Some had to be dragged,” he said.

Zameel Ahmed, who lost two of his sons aged 32 and 34 in the inferno, was inconsolable.

“Five of my grandchildren have lost their fathers. We have lost everything.”

Hardeep Singh Puri, Indian housing and urban development minister, hit out at the Delhi state government for allowing the owners of the building to operate with “impunity”.

The lanes were narrow and congested with wires and cables dangling dangerously, he said in a statement, adding the building flouted safety and fire norms.

“If all these (city) departments had done their job properly then many valuable lives could have been saved,” he said.

Police said the owner of the building and its manager have been arrested and that the illegal factory units inside had been operating without fire safety clearance.

One of the units manufactured wall mirrors, one was involved in the stitching of schoolbags and another stitched skull caps, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Such firms often provide sleeping quarters for poor workers, mostly migrants from elsewhere in India who save money by bedding down at their workplaces.

Some were paid just 1,000 rupees ($14) a month.

Locals said the building, which also made purses and jackets, had just one entrance. Twenty rooms on each floor were connected by a single internal stairway.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that the fire, the deadliest in Delhi since 59 people perished in a burning cinema in 1997, was “extremely horrific”.

Over 20 Shops Destroyed In Ilorin Market Fire

fireGoods worth millions of naira were destroyed when a popular market in Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State caught fire on Monday.

The inferno engulfed Oja Tuntun market, known for selling of clothes and foodstuff and nobody could ascertain the cause of the fire which started around 2:00 am and destroyed over 20 shops.

The traders lamented the late arrival of men of the fire service and called for urgent rehabilitation and reconstruction of the shops.

Speaking on behalf of the market men and women, the Chairman of the market union, Abdulrasak Lasoju, condemned the long distance the firemen had to travel before arriving at the market.

He urged the state government to build a fire station in the market and also asked for urgent reconstruction of the burnt market as well as its upgrade to a modern one.

A representative of the Chairman of Ilorin West Local Government, Akeem Sulyman, who inspected the damage done by the inferno, expressed the determination of the council to start the reconstruction soon.

Mr Sulyman of the Supervisory Council on Finance, added that although the council was operating on a lean budget at the moment, they would ensure that they bring smiles to the faces of the traders.

5-storey building gutted by fire in Lagos

Tragedy struck on Saturday as a five storey building in Lagos was razed by fire, destroying property worth millions of naira.

The five-storey building, known as UBA Plaza, on Bread Fruit Street because the building houses a branch of the bank  on its third floor started burning around 5:00pm according to those present at the scene.

Uzuoma Aniekwe; a shop owner in the building, said the fire started shortly before 5:00 p.m., and as he got wind of it he started evacuating his goods from inside his shop on the ground floor and according to Aniekwe the fire started on the fourth floor and flowed rapidly to the fifth floor.

As of 08:20 p.m. in the evening of Saturday, firemen from the Lagos State Fire Service, UBA and Julius Berger Plc., were still battling the fire according to our reporter who was present at the scene of the incident as report had it that the fourth and the fifth floors were mostly affected by the fire.

A senior official with the Lagos State Fire Service in charge of rescue operation, said the arrangements products inside the warehouses was too compact for water to get through which gave rise to the unsuccessful penetration of water into the core part where the fire started from.

The official said the banking hall on the third floor might have remained intact, as well as many offices on the second floor.

In order to secure properties worth millions of naira to be looted by miscreants in the Breadfruit area police and officials of other security agencies quickly swung to action to protect these wares.