Catastrophe struck for 32-odd families residing at Ganpati Sadan in Tardeo on Thursday -- they were rendered homeless within a matter of seconds, as flames engulfed their homes.
The fire caused a cylinder to burst, which eventually claimed the life of 65-year-old Arvind Phansekar. Eleven others were injured in the mishap and rushed to Nair Hospital.
The fire was sparked off at the meter box of the building at 7.30 am and quickly spread to the other floors via the wiring and the wooden staircase. "As we rushed out of our home, we heard the sound of wires crackling in the heat. Soon, we realized it was a short circuit and immediately evacuated homes through a side passage and called for the fire brigade. The officials reached 45 minutes later," said Shellata Fernandes, a ground floor resident of the building. Tales of escape
Pranay, an 11-month-old toddler, had a close shave with death. His mother Deepika threw the boy three floors down to escape the inferno. Pranay suffered burns on his right hand and has sustained a fracture to his right leg owing to the fall. Meanwhile, his mother has sustained minor burns as well. "When I left for work, nothing was wrong. However, my life has turned upside down in a matter of few moments. I just can't believe this whole incident," said Manish, Deepika's husband.
And Pranay's is not the only story of survival. Three-year-old Neel, who is recuperating in the children's ward at Nair Hospital, said, "All I could see were red hot flames around me," pointing at the burns he sustained on his hands and feet. Recounting the horror, Neel added, "I had just come here to stay with my grandparents with my mother Jacinta." Fearless heroes
On the other hand, Jacinta, who has suffered burns on her face and neck, said that his maternal uncle Vincent Alexander, who too suffered from burns, rescued Neel. "When we woke up in the morning, all we could hear were screams. We were feeling suffocated in the house. I picked up Neel and started moving down. But when we reached the second floor, we could not see anything owing to the fog and smoke and had to rush back to the third floor. As no help had arrived till then, we used a window and came out with the help of ladders that nearby construction workers provided us," said Vincent. Official speak
A BMC official from the disaster control department said, "The injured were rushed immediately to Nair Hospital and we have confirmed that there is no serious injury to them."
A fireman said, "The fire spread rapidly as the building had a lot of wood and also due to the cylinder blast. Also, a part of the building collapsed owing to the fire."
A Muzawar, Chief Fire officer said, "The investigation is going on and we shall ascertain the cause of the fire in two to three days."