A major fire in a four-storey building in Sector 17 led to its collapse on Sunday evening, reducing property worth lakhs to rubble. Two people were killed and four injured even as the flames spread to an adjoining building late at night.
Officials claimed there were two people trapped inside and had been rescued. Additional Commissioner Sunil Bhatia said as per information, everyone had been rescued.
Those trapped were taken out late at night. They were rushed to Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16, where they were declared dead on arrival. One of them was identified as Amandeep Singh, a fireman. His legs were stuck and one of his arms, which was being held by the other victim, was cut off during the collapse. The other victim was identified as Ravinder Kumar from 3BRD.
Among the injured firemen taken to the hospital were Raghuvir Singh, Sachin, Shekhar and Jatinder. They were administered first aid at GMSH-16. They said that they felt suffocated as the fire engulfed the building.
The fire is suspected to have started in the afternoon, but due to the location of the building and other factors, the flames could not be controlled despite the entire fire emergency services of the Tricity being pressed into service. The building, which mostly contained electronic equipment, eventually collapsed around 9 pm.
Till the filing of this report, JCB cranes were trying to clear out the rubble to find the men inside. Emergency services from the Air Force, civil defence and the neighbouring cities, and the top brass of the UT Police and administration reached the spot at night. Huge chaos prevailed throughout the evening as hundreds of passers-by gathered at the spot and the police failed to control them.
Fire officials said that they got a call at 4.50 pm about the fire in the building of National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELET) in Sector 17-B near the Madhya Marg, when a watchman noticed smoke coming out. NIELET is an autonomous scientific body run by the Central government (previously known as the Regional Computer Centre). The building was located between the Madhya Marg and the newly constructed overbridge, a few offices away from the CITCO office.
Officials said that the fire started from the basement and then went upwards. Owners of neighbouring showrooms alleged that the fire actually started around 3 pm but nobody paid much heed to it. “They have an AC plant inside the building which caught sparks around 3,” said a showroom owner.
The building had a narrow passageway towards one side, and private showrooms adjoined it on the other side. Despite six-seven fire tenders being pressed into service initially, the fire could not be controlled as there was only one approach road to the building while two tall and thick trees next to the building also posed a problem. There was no employee in the closed continued…