2 charred to death as fire engulfs 4-storey bldg

2 charred to death as fire engulfs 4-storey bldg

Cause of fire not known; officials suspect flame spread from foam unit on the ground floor

2 charred to death as fire engulfs 4-storey bldg
Two men were charred to death in a fire in a four-storey building in Jagjivanramnagar off Mysuru Road on Friday afternoon. The dead were identified as Mehtab Ahmed (27), a native of Delhi and Mohammad Hafeezullah (32), a native of Shivamogga. Ahmed was working in a foam seat making unit and stayed with his two brothers in Padarayanapura. Ahmed’s wife is five months pregnant and is in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Hafeezullah, a maulvi, was teaching students at the madarsa on the terrace, the police said.

The foam seat making unit was on the ground floor of the four-storey building located on 2nd Cross, Vinayakanagar in Old Guddadhahalli. The second and third floors were a duplex house where building owner Syed Ibrahim Khaleemullah lived. On Friday at around 12.50 pm, an autorickshaw driver Mohammad Zubair who was passing by, noticed smoke billowing out of the ground and the first floors. He informed the fire station.

By the time the fire brigade arrived, the fire had spread to the floors above as well. “There were cries of panic and we had to battle the crowd even before rescuing the trapped people and fighting the fire,” said Siddaraju, a senior fire officer said. The building had only one narrow stairway, the police said. Before the police and fire force arrived, neighbours broke open a common wall of an adjacent wedding hall and rescued 10 people, including four children and three women of Khaleemullah’s family.

One of the neighbours Javesh Pasha also rescued four sheep that were on the terrace. “We thought that nobody was inside the building, but to our shock, we saw two bodies being brought out by firemen,” Pasha added. There were a dozen containers probably containing an inflammable gum-based solution used for sticking foam, on the first two floors. This could have fuelled the fire, suspect fire officials.

“The cause of the fire is unknown. A forensic team and the fire department collected samples from the building to prepare a report on the incident,” said Soumendu Mukherjee, IGP Fire and Emergency Services. “The two men probably inhaled smoke and become unconscious after which they were charred to death,” a senior police officer said.

Holiday saved students
It was a fortunate day for around 50 children aged between 5 and 10 who regularly came to the Madarsa Arabia Ziya-Ul-Quraan for their religious classes. They were saved as Friday was a holiday. “If it was any other day it would have been tragic,’’ said a senior police officer.

A case of negligence has been registered at the JJ Nagar police station against Ibrahim Khaleemullah under IPC sections 337, 338, 304-A and 285 of the IPC. The complainant is Mohammad Athaullah, brother of deceased Mohammad Hafeezullah. “Prima facie, the building owner has not only violated building bye-laws but also has not obtained trade licences or clearance from the fire department,” said DCP M N Anucheth.

Chamarajpet MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan and local corporator Imran Pasha visited the spot and announced Rs 2 lakh ex gratia for members of the families of the deceased. Khaleemulla and three of his family members were admitted to a hospital with minor injuries. Medical assistants who arrived on a bike ambulance were seen administering first-aid to neighbours and fire fighters who were injured during rescue operations and evacuation of occupants.

Vinayakanagar is a residential locality with closely packed buildings and fire officials suspected the fire could have spread from one building to the another. Hence around 10 fire tenders were stationed in the area even as the fire tender could not enter the narrow lane where the building was located. The fire personnel were also seen evacuating residents from neighbouring buildings while a team was dousing the fire. Firemen were struggling to remove several gas cylinders inside the building as the heat kept increasing.