Since she got married 15 years ago, Rajini, 30, made sure that she did not miss the grand family reunion at her brother’s house in Shahdara area on the occasion of Bhai Dooj. Little did she realise that this would be her last visit.
She, along with her 10-year-old daughter Karina and another resident of the building, Sanjay (36), were killed and 10 others were injured after a major fire broke out in the apartment building in north-east Delhi early Wednesday morning. Of the 10 injured, two are critical and are being treated at the GTB Hospital.
“Rajini had come to Delhi from Meerut on Tuesday to celebrate Bhai Dooj with us. At night, she asked me to drop her at the ISBT early in the morning. But she is gone now,” said Sonu (35), her elder brother, who was saved by the fire department and neighbours.
Sonu said, “I woke up to the sound of other people shouting for help and I realised that I was not able to breath. I rushed to open the door.
The latch was hot and I was unable to open the door. I collapsed after inhaling smoke. When I gained consciousness, I found myself outside the building and I was told that my sister and her daughter had died,” he added.
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A fire department official said they received a call at 5.06 am and rushed five fire tenders to the spot. “We were able to douse the fire by 6.30 am.”
A short-circuit in the electrical meter on the ground floor of the building, where at least 13 e-rickshaws were being charged, is suspected to be the reason for the fire, police said.
The e-rickshaws and other vehicles parked in the area have all been gutted, police added. “The fire broke out on the ground floor where the rickshaws were parked for charging. While two people were injured after they jumped from the building to save themselves, the others inhaled smoke,” said A K Singla, DCP (northeast).
“We are checking the electrical load sanctioned to the house and if the e-rickshaws were being charged there illegally,” he said.
Brothers Vishal Sharma and Abhishek Sharma, who live in the opposite building, were woken up by the sudden chaos 4 am and they initially thought it was a blast in the transformer. “A few residents of the building had started screaming and the fire reached till the first floor of the apartment. We saw a couple stranded. By the time we brought a ladder and helped them escape, fire officials had arrived,” says Vishal, a software engineer.
Rahul said, “My brother called me for help and said there was fire in the building. We all rushed to the building, but couldn’t save him.”