Editorial: Fire, ire

In one of the worst fire accidents in the city, 43 people were killed after a massive blaze ripped through a four-storey building housing illegal manufacturing units in north Delhi’s Anaj Mandi area on Sunday morning. Most of the people working in the units were fast asleep when the fire broke out in the second floor of the building in the early hours and 30 fire tenders were pressed into service. A preliminary probe suggested that short circuit triggered the blaze. Nearly 150 fire personnel carried out the rescue operation and pulled out 63 people from the building. While 43 labourers died, many others were injured including two fire personnel, fire officials said. They said none of the units had a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from the fire department and the congested area made rescue operations difficult. Firemen had to cut window grills to access the building.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each for the next of kin of those who lost their lives in the fire The PM also approved Rs 50,000 each for those seriously injured in the fire, his office said. The amount will be paid from the Prime Minister National Relief Fund, the PMO said in a tweet. The Delhi government ordered a probe into the incident and sought a detailed report within seven days. An ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh each has been announced for the next of kin of those killed and Rs 1 lakh for those injured North Delhi Mayor Avtar Singh said he has asked the Municipal Commissioner to form a team which will visit the site and probe the cause of fire. Police said they have registered a case against the property owner.

Chaotic scenes were witnessed at the site of the fire accident which was clogged with bystanders and politicians arriving in convoys. Firemen made their way through narrow lanes to rescue those trapped inside the blackened building and carried many unconscious labourers on their backs. Fire officials said the narrow lanes made it difficult for them to carry out rescue operations. As the building lacked proper ventilation, most of the people died due to asphyxia. There are many buildings without adequate fire protection measures in the shopping and industrial areas of Tamilnadu. Taking a cue from the Delhi incident, officials concerned here should take action against them. For, prevention is better than cure.

NT Bureau