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The Okhla Fire Station is located less than a kilometre away from the spot of the fire that claimed five lives. But the fire tender took more than half an hour to reach, locals alleged on Tuesday. Fire station officials, however, maintained they acted immediately after they received the message.
People who stay in the vicinity of the ill-fated home told The Indian Express that had the fire tender reached on time, casualties could have been avoided. Pinto, a neighbour, said the fire tender reached almost 40 minutes after the blaze started. “By the time they reached, we had already controlled the fire, except in a small area. The fire station is located just a half kilometre away, but it still took them so long,” he claimed.
“Soon after the fire broke out, we got buckets, mugs and plastic cans, and used water to control the flames. But we are not experts like the fire officials. Had they come on time, lives could have been saved,” said Virender, a neighbour.
When contacted, an official at Okhla Fire Station said they reached the spot soon after they got the information. The official, however, acknowledged a staff crunch, saying that four officers work at a time and only one fire tender is operational.
DFS chief G C Misra said, “We received a call at 9.56 pm and started operation at 10.05 pm. Soon after the first tender reached the spot, we sent four more fire tenders. There was no question of any delay.”