Two children were killed and six others injured in a blaze which engulfed a slum cluster in the industrial belt of Bawana,Outer Delhi,on Friday.
Once the fire died down,angry residents claimed that the rescue operations were delayed. They assaulted fire personnel,leaving four men injured and two fire tenders damaged.
Those injured were rushed to Maharishi Valmiki hospital. Two children two-year-old Manish and five-year-old Sartaj were declared dead on arrival.
While five of those injured were administered first-aid and discharged,Mohammad Shiraj (48) is critical and has been referred to Lok Nayak Hospital. Doctors said he suffered 40 per cent burns.
According to the Delhi Fire Services (DFS) department,the fire started around 1.30 pm.
Residents claimed that they heard a loud explosion and within 15 minutes fire spread across the 800-odd slum dwellings,gutting 400 of them.
DFS officials said the heaps of scrap,garbage,loose wires and other combustible material in the area helped the fire spread fast.
Fire chief AK Sharma said,Initially,eight fire tenders were sent in. After it was declared a medium category fire,12 more were sent in from Bawana,Rohini,Bhorgarh and Narela.
The residents of the slum,located in F-Block,Bawana,are mostly daily wage labourers who work in factories in the industrial belt.
Most of the residents were re-located here from the Yamuna Pushta area,Ashok Vihar and Sawant Park between 2004 and 2012,officials said.
Mohammad Rashid,a resident,said,We heard a loud explosion and the entire place was ablaze. People began running helter-skelter. No one even got time to take out their belongings. Even the livestock were burnt alive.
Fire officials said an LPG cylinder blast triggered the blaze. Officials claimed that they reached the spot in 15 minutes and it took them over two hours to douse the flames.
By then,residents took to the streets and began pelting stones at vehicles claiming that the fire department reached late.
Raj Singh,another resident,said,The fire department reached late. The entire place was on fire by then. I was in the factory at the time. My children were inside the house. Though they escaped unhurt,I wasnt able to salvage any of my belongings. I lost everything.
Four personnel were injured and two fire tenders were damaged after the residents assaulted us with sticks and pelted stones at the fire tenders, Sharma said.
Param Singh,grandfather of Manish,said,I was at home with my grandson. A neighbour told me that a fire had broken out and that we should get out as soon as possible. I held my grandson and was heading out. Suddenly,he left my hand and before I could gather my bearings,he had disappeared. I thought he had run outside. I took the television set and went out. When I couldnt see him,I tried going back inside. But,by then,our house was on fire. An hour later,I found him lying charred.
District Commissioner Ashish More said,Around 1.30 pm,we received a call from the emergency operation centre. The fire department,police,revenue department,CATS ambulances and field officials were pressed into action. We have set up relief camps for the residents and food facilities are in place.
In a statement,Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said she was in touch with the district authorities to help the victims. The CM has deputed the Deputy Commissioner (Revenue),SDMs and other officers besides the local MLA to take care of the affected families. A case of rioting has been registered,police said.