OVER TWO dozen shanties were damaged when a fire broke out at a sprawling Pimpri slum on Sunday morning. The fire started at around 9.30 am at Sanjay Gandhi Nagar and gutted around 26 shanties. The fire tenders, however, did manage to stop the spread of the fire, averting a major tragedy at a settlement comprising as many as 450 hutments built extremely close to each other.
According to the fire department of Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), three of its personnel received minor burns while trying to douse the fire. Eyewitnesses said smoke billowing out of the houses could be seen from far across and the fire brigade personnel had a difficult time approaching the site through narrow lanes. “We were told that the fire started after a woman lighted a lamp and left the house for some work. A cloth fell on it, catching fire which then spread when it came in contact with a LPG cylinder. Soon, three other cylinders in nearby houses caught fire and it assumed monstrous proportions,” said Chandrakant Khose, Assistant Commissioner, Fire.
Khose said the department received a call at 9.30 am after which three fire tenders from its Vallabhnagar, Rahatani and Talawade station were rushed to the spot. “Many locals rushed to the nearby hutments and cleared out all the inflammables. Some of them also threw down LPG cylinders into the river. It was a terrible sight,” Joseph Kale, an eyewitnesses said.
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About 60 fire brigade personnel and 10 officers were deployed at the site to douse the fire, an official said. The police was pressed into action as the fire tenders were further plagued by the crowd of onlookers. “We had to resort to lathi charge to disperse the onlookers as it was a serious situation and despite warnings they were not leaving the premises,” said a cop deployed at the site.