Accidental fire claims labour contractor's life

A labour contractor died after suffering serious burns in a suspected fire accident on Saturday night.

 The deceased, Ashok Kumar, hails from Hebbugodi and was a resident of Old Chandapura. Police said that Kumar was also a dealer in paints. His wife Mamatha, 32, is a member of the local gram panchayat.

The incident occurred hours after Kumar, his wife and their 10-year-old daughter Prajwa Reddy had attended a family function at Attibele on Saturday afternoon. According to police, Kumar’s wife and daughter stayed in the relative’s home while Kumar returned to Old Chandapura around 7.30 pm.

The police said that evidence indicate that Kumar, a habitual drinker, locked himself in his bedroom and began to consume alcohol. Around 9.30 pm, he was heard screaming for help. Manjunath, his younger brother, who lives next door, and Murugesh, a neighbour, rushed to his aid and noticed fire inside the room. They attempted to enter the room, but found the door locked from within.

They forced open the door and found Kumar in flames. They immediately placed a blanket over him to douse the flames, and rushed him to Victoria Hospital. Kumar, who had suffered 80 per cent burns, died early Sunday.

The Hebbugodi police have registered a case of unnatural death and are investigating. A senior police officer suspected that Kumar was a victim of an accidental fire and it was not a suicide attempt. “If it had indeed been a case of suicide, he would have poured kerosene or some fuel over his body before setting himself ablaze,” the officer said.

Police suspect that the fire could have been triggered by a burning cigarette when Kumar was in an inebriated condition. The officer pointed out that the fire seems to have originated on the mattress. “Kumar may have been careless while putting away a cigarette stub, causing the fire,” the officer said.  

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