Around 1000 jhuggis were gutted and eight persons were injured when a massive fire broke out in a slum cluster in Masoodpur area of south Delhi's Vasant Kunj here today, police and fire officials said.
Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Najeeb Jung visited the fire affected area soon after the fire was reported and inspected the relief and rescue operations at the site.
The area Deputy Commissioner informed him that 35 fire tenders along with 15 Ambulances were rushed to the spot immediately and no casualties were reported so far, while 8 injured had been admitted to various hospitals.
Heavy smoke filled the area as the blaze spread and small cylinders kept in the jhuggis exploded. Although officials said that the reason behind the fire is yet to be ascertained, locals said that the fire started after a gas cylinder exploded in one of the shanty while cooking.
"Fire was reported at 8.30 AM and fire tenders were immediately rushed to the spot. As the jhuggis were made of highly combustible material, fire spread very quickly. The area was also used as a dump by its residents as many of them were rag-pickers, plastic and other garbage kept by them in an open yard in the area also fuelled the fire," said A K Sharma, Director of Delhi Fire Service.
Fire tenders took around three hours to douse the flames. The 2 to 3 acre area in which the slums were located slightly away from the main road due to which fire tenders faced some difficulty to reach the spot. Availability of water was also an issue for the fire tenders.
"We have to carry water to the spot from the nearby mall as it was not available at the sight," said Sharma.
As the shanties were very close to each other, the fire spread very fast giving little time to residents to ferry their belongings to safer places. Narrow lanes did not help matters either as several residents were left with just the pair of cloths on their bodies as their belongings.
"Our house, all our clothes, eatables, utensils have been burnt. Some of my saving has also been lost in the blaze. I have come on road," said 37-year-old Kanti, a victim.
The Lieutenant Governor, besides hearing the affected residents and consoling them, gave directions to the Deputy Commisioner and other officials present on site that they must provide immediate relief to those affected in Fire.
He directed the Deputy Commissioner to set up medical camps on site and provide immediate medical attention to those affected and to make sure that adequate medical supply and staff is available round the clock.
The LG also directed that ex-gratia payment be made to those affected and they be rehabilitated at the earliest and instructed officials to immediately arrange for adequate drinking water and food packets for those affected.
He directed the Deputy Commissioner to draw in more staff to provide succour to those affected, especially women and children, who assured him that water tankers from Jal Board and food packets were being arranged and they would be setting up temporary night shelters to accommodate those affected.
By afternoon 10 water tankers, an MCD health team, as well as a team of doctors from Fortis were at the site.
Officials also informed the LG that shelters had been identified and tents were being set up to prepare for the night. Arrangements for food had been made and special emphasis was being given to sanitation by the team.
SDMs and police officials from neighbouring districts and IAS probationers have also been pressed into service to aid the relief process, official said.