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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Mundka fire: First fire call gave impression not many were trapped inside

Atul Garg, Delhi Fire Services Chief, said they first received a call at 4.40 pm and were informed the location was a factory.

Written by Jignasa Sinha | New Delhi |
Updated: May 14, 2022 10:41:03 am
Firefighters try to douse a fire which broke out in a building at Mundka, in West Delhi, Friday, May 13, 2022.

When the fire department first received a call about the Mundka blaze, they were under the impression that it is a factory unit and not an office complex with over a hundred trapped inside.

Atul Garg, Delhi Fire Services Chief, said they first received a call at 4.40 pm and were informed the location was a factory. “Assuming it was a factory fire, we sent 10 fire tenders to the spot. We weren’t told about the number of people trapped inside. The fire broke out on the first floor and spread to other floors within an hour. We found that people were trapped inside. It’s an office space where WiFi routers, CCTVs and other devices are stored. We called cranes and ambulances for help. At present, 30 fire tenders are working at the spot to contain the fire and rescue people,” Garg told The Indian Express on Friday night.

“Intense heat” posed the greatest challenge for firefighters as they tried making their way inside the office complex. While more than a 100 people were believed to be inside the building when the fire broke out, officials said more than 50 had been rescued through the day.

Cranes and ladders attached to fire tenders were used to try and reach upper floors, but heat and smoke posed challenges.

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By midnight, the toll had reached 27.

Before firefighters arrived, locals had rushed with ladders and ropes to rescue the victims. They broke windows and tried pulling people out — a video shows a group of men climbing ladders and adjacent buildings to try and rescue those inside.

Once there, fire officials sent teams to the first floor to douse the flames and rescue people.

During the rescue operation, Garg said: “It’s a massive fire. So far, we have been able to recover 20 bodies from the first and second floors. We haven’t searched the third floor yet. Teams are trying to get there. We found that the building is majorly made of glass. The weather conditions might have led to the fire. It’s difficult to scale up because everything was made of glass and all the machines and equipment stored inside fell to the ground. There’s also a lot of smoke and heat…”

By midnight, the toll had reached 27. Many inside were found dead. “We found many charred bodies. It’s difficult to identify them because of their condition. A group of firemen are breaking windows and are on the terrace to reach upper floors. Others are going from the ground floor,” said an official around midnight.

DCP (Outer) Sameer Sharma said the company was run by Cofe Impex Pvt Ltd and the owners, Harish Goel and Varun Goel, had been detained. “It’s a tragic incident. We reached the spot as soon as we could and staff broke the windows to rescue people inside. We admitted nearly a dozen victims to nearby hospitals,” he said.

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