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Four die in fire accident in Coimbatore

Chennai, April 25, 2013, DHNS: 1:32 IST
Fire personnel dousing a fire that broke out in a commercial complex in Coimbatore on Thursday. PTI Photo
A devastating fire in a commercial complex on ‘Avinashi Road’ in Coimbatore on Thursday killed at least four women and injured nine including three fire personnel.

Major parts of the building’s second and third floor-, housing several offices including ‘Axis Bank’, stock-broking firm ‘Sharekhan.com’, and banking behemoth ICICI’s Life-Insurance arm among others-, were gutted in the fire which was put out after an over two-hour battle, Police and Fire Service sources said.

Speaking to Deccan Herald from Coimbatore over phone, the sources gave the names of the four dead women as Keerthana (22), a receptionist in one of the offices, Margaret Mary (58), and Vijayalakshmi (50), both employed as sweepers. The identity of the fourth dead woman is not yet established, sources said, adding that the victim, one Sri Lakshmi, may be a staff of ‘Sharekhan’.

“All the four were apparently choked to death by the thick smoke and then charred badly by the flames that spread rapidly,” local Fire Station House Officer Murugan, who led the fire-fighting team, said. The fire was reported to them around 1020 hours, said Murugan. The bodies of the dead women were found to have over 80 per cent burns, while the body of the yet-to-be-identified woman “was charred beyond recognition,” said a Police official.

All hell broke loose on Avinashi road earlier in the day when passers by first noticed thick smoke billowing out of the commercial complex, even as some of them promptly alerted the disaster relief agencies. The building allegedly did not have a proper exhaust to diffuse smoke in an emergency.

While Police and Fire services personnel believe the fire was triggered by an electrical short circuit in the building, Coimbatore Police Commissioner A K Viswanathan said the fire could have broken out in the second floor office of ‘Sharekhan’, an online stock-broking firm.

It quickly spread horizontally and vertically to other offices, he said, adding, more details are awaited. Two women employees of the stock-broking firm, Sukhanya (27) and Jeevitha (24), jumped down to safety from the building’s third floor to badly fracture their legs, said Coimbatore District Collector M Karunakaran.

The duo was admitted to a private hospital.

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