Probe begins in Himalaya House fire, cops register case of death due to negligen

A case of causing death by negligence has been lodged over the death of a 67-year-old security guard in the fire that broke out at the 12-storey Himalaya House on Kasturba Gandhi Marg near Connaught Place. Jai Bhagwan Sharma was the only person to die in the blaze on Monday.

The building was also sealed and inspected by several teams of Delhi Police, Delhi Fire Services, Rohini Forensic Science Laboratory and New Delhi Municipal Council on Tuesday.

Thick plumes of smoke were billowing out of the building around 6.20 am and 32 fire tenders were rushed to the spot. The fire, suspected to be due to a short circuit, broke out in the third floor and spread to the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth floor soon.
Jai, a resident of Jharoda Majra Burari, was found lying near the lobby lift between the seventh and eighth floors around 11.35 am.

“He was rushed to Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, where he was declared brought dead. An initial post-mortem has confirmed that he suffocated to death because of the asphyxiating gases. His hands and legs, however, had burn injuries,” a police official said. He is survived by wife Kusum and two sons.

When the fire broke out, around 15 people were in the building. While most escaped, three guards got trapped at different floors. Two of them — Raj Kumar and Shiv Kumar — were rescued by the firefighters. Raj, who was on duty at the eleventh floor, had a narrow escape, while Shiv, who was at the sixth floor, received burn injuries.

A police official said a case under section 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code has been registered against unknown persons with Barakhamba Road police station.

“Charges under sections 288 (negligent conduct with respect to repairing building) and 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the IPC would be added if negative reports are filed by the investigating agencies. The owner of the building could be named as the accused on the basis of the reports,” the official said.

The building was also sealed by DFS on Tuesday with all the commercial establishments asked to evacuate the premises on a short notice. DFS has further slapped a notice to the building’s owner for not abiding with the fire safety norms and asked to apply for a no objection certificate after ensuring the mandatory laws.

Sources also said a report has been sent to the owner stating shortcomings of the building and measures needed to be taken to make it safe for commercial use.
Meanwhile, the offices have been asked to shift their valuables and infrastructure till the building is issued the NoC.

“Until the builder puts in place the fire fighting systems and takes necessary safety measure, the premises cannot be allowed for any kind of usage,” said Rajender Atwal, Connaught Place DFS station officer. “It will be opened only for few days to assist office staff in shifting their infrastructure,” he added.

A fire official added that the incident would not have gone out of control if the building was forced to follow new rules for fire prevention and fire safety introduced by the DFS in 2010.

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