Around 200 jhuggis were gutted in a blaze that broke out in the early hours of Wednesday in west Delhi’s Paschim Vihar. While no casualties were reported, a 40-year-old woman sustained minor burn injuries.
According to fire officials, locals claimed they witnessed crackling in the overhead electric cables minutes before the blaze. “We received a call about the fire at 1.15 am. Twenty-eight tenders, including 20 water units, were dispatched immediately. A team of 100 personnel put out the flames within two hours. We cannot confirm what caused it, but it appears to be an electrical fire. The electricity was ordered to be disconnected and we doused it,” said Atul Garg, Chief Fire Officer (Delhi Fire Services).
Visiting the area later in the day, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “We will investigate the incident… The Delhi government will provide families with Rs 25,000 to rebuild their jhuggis. We will also provide tents, blankets and food till they restart their lives properly.” He added that the process of shifting people from illegal shanties to authorised government accommodation will begin soon.
Police said no formal complaint had been filed so far, while BSES officials claimed the fire has nothing to do with their electrical infrastructure.
Residents claimed that between 12.30 am and 1 am, they spotted a small fire near a heap of trash next to a canal that flows near the slum. Within few minutes, it spread to the electric wires and the houses. Sweeping charred remains of clothes and papers, Bhanumati, whose house was destroyed, said: “We are looking for my children’s books… They have exams in two weeks.”