Massive fire destroys 1,000 huts

Massive fire destroys 1,000 huts

Thousands of slum-dwellers at south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj were left shelterless after about 1,000 huts were gutted by a massive fire on Friday morning. Eight people were injured and required hospitalisation and 47 fire tenders dispatched to douse the flames.

Victims said the fire began while a woman was cooking on a gas stove in one of the huts. Before they could recover and react, it spread to other huts, leading to blasts of several cooking gas cylinders.

Most of the male slum-dwellers at the Jai Hind Bengali Basti work as kabadi-wallahs, dealing in scrap. The women do odd jobs, including working as maids in Vasant Kunj.
While victims said that the fire started around 7:30 am and alleged that the fire tenders arrived only after many huts were burnt, the fire department said they received a call at 8:20 am and succeeded in dousing the flames by about 10:40 pm.

Even as victims dug into the debris to pull out whatever remained, help began arriving by afternoon. While NGOs and individuals were the first to set up tents and provide food to the victims, the Delhi Jal Board had sent water tankers early in the day and portable toilets were deployed by afternoon.

Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung visited the spot, inspected the relief operations and ordered officials concerned to pay ex gratia to the victims and rehabilitate them soon.
However, what the victims lacked was food as most households were in the process of cooking when the accident took place. While NGOs and individuals brought some eatables, the Delhi government was still in the process of setting up tents for cooking till late afternoon.

“We are prepared to feed up to 5,000 victims. No one will go hungry,” an official responsible for supplying food told Deccan Herald.

Arrangements were also being made to erect about 400 tents for the victims.

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