A fire broke out at a Covid-19 hospital in South Delhi on Saturday evening, following which eight patients had to be evacuated. The incident took place at Ujala Cygnus Orthocare Hospital in SDA around 5.55 pm. Eight fire tenders were rushed to the spot and the blaze was doused around 7 pm. No casualty or injuries were reported.
Delhi Fire Service (DFS) chief Atul Garg told The Indian Express, “The fire broke out on the third floor, where there are two operation theatres and a recovery room. Eight Covid-19 patients, including three women, were admitted. All of them were evacuated by firemen, with help from hospital staff. Prima facie, it appears there was a short-circuit in an OT. The third floor was not in use ever since the hospital became a Covid-19 hospital.”
The patients have been shifted to Batra hospital.
Around 40 firefighters were deployed, of whom nine went inside the building, including divisional officer S K Dua (53). He told The Indian Express, “This was a risky operation as people who have been rescued are Covid-19 patients, and we can’t wear a PPE as it will catch fire. We were all equipped with hand gloves, N95 masks and our usual suit.”
He added that patients were on the ground and first floors only, and the third floor was empty.
Dua said most of the firefighters were young and he went in with them to keep them motivated: “Hospital staff cooperated with us and helped remove the patients. At least two patients were using oxygen cylinders, three were wheeled out on their beds, and others walked out with the firemen and hospital staff. The patients were obviously scared as they are already fighting Covid-19.”
Firefighter Vinay Kumar said that since the DFS men were not in PPE gear, they first guided hospital staff on how to evacuate a few patients, after which Dua took over, and he headed to the third floor to douse the blaze.
“Once rescue was done, efforts to douse the fire began. The third floor OTs and recovery room are gutted but the rest of the floors are fine. They were filled with smoke,” said Dua.
The building comprises a basement, a ground floor and three floors on top of that. “No other patients were admitted, apart from the eight Covid-19 patients,” said Garg.
Hospital unit head Dr Amit Vig said: “DFS, along with the hospital’s fire division, controlled the fire and are still on the job. There has been no loss of life.”
Once the fire-fighting operation was over, the firefighters were sanitised at the hospital and briefed by a senior doctor. Firefighter Kumar said the doctor told them not to panic and what to do if any symptoms develop.
Dua said that as per government guidelines, the men will only go into quarantine if they develop symptoms: “We have briefed the nine men to maintain social distancing, take extra precautions, and not mingle with the rest of the DFS staff. We have asked them to alert us if they develop any symptoms. I have spoken to my family at home, and told them I will stay in a separate room for some time.”
At 7.14 pm, DFS received another fire call from Metro Hospital in Lajpat Nagar where a minor fire had broken out on the terrace. The fibre sheet caught fire and it was doused within 10 minutes, said Garg.
Spike as temperature soars
Garg told The Indian Express that ever since temperatures soared in the capital, and with the opening of several offices, fire calls have gone up. He said that before May 20, the number of calls daily was limited to under 50. “On May 20, we got 88 fire calls, 89 calls on May 21, and 101 on May 22,” he said.
He said that for months, offices and shops have been shut, and suddenly when they opened, many short-circuits were reported that led to minor fires: “I strongly advise that people should get their ACs serviced before they switch them on. In several cases in the last three days, this is a recurring issue we have noticed.”
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