More than 400 people were rendered homeless after a massive fire broke out at a slum cluster near Jamia Nagar’s Batla House area on Tuesday. The blaze, locals said, spread after a loose wire fell on a jhuggi located at the centre of the colony. “Due to the fast moving wind, the fire soon spread to the front and east side of the colony and destroyed 80 shanties,” said a Delhi Fire Services (DFS) officer, even as many locals claimed that more than 100 shanties were gutted in the fire. DCP (southeast) Romil Baaniya said no casualty has been reported from the spot.
Atul Garg, Deputy Chief , DFS, said that a call was received at 11.43 am. “A total of nine units, including five fire tenders and four water bowser units, were sent to the spot,” Garg said. The locals, however, alleged that the firefighters were an hour late and that by the time they reached, the fire had gutted most of the shanties. Some of the locals also resorted to stonepelting, venting their ire at the police and firefighters.
“It was very difficult for us to navigate the narrow lanes near Batla House. The fire tenders had come from Okhla, Mathura Road and Connaught Place,” said a senior DFS officer. As the blaze spread into several homes, gas cylinders exploded and the flames went out of control, residents said.
Locals claimed that the blaze raged on for three hours. Many locals, who work in butcher shops at Batla House, also lost their livestock. The DFS, however, said the fire was brought under control by 1.40 pm. One water tanker from the DJB was deputed to the site while two bulldozers cleared the debris. “We will sleep in the open fields tonight,” said Md Shakeel, a resident.