Bipin Saroj, who was working on the fourth floor, was among the first to notice the fire. “Bhaago, aag lagi hai (Run, there is a fire), we heard him shout. We ran out to save our lives. Later, we realised that Bipin himself could not make it,” said Sudhanshu, one of the survivors in Thursday’s fire at Serum Institute of India’s campus in Pune.
Saroj, a migrant worker from UP, was among the five who died in the blaze. The other four have been identified as Rama Shankar from UP, Sushil Kumar Pandey from Bihar, and Mahendra Ingle and Pratik Pashte, both residents of Pune district.
Police are still collecting key details of those killed as their families are yet to reach the hospital. All of them were working for Suvidha Engineers, the firm carrying out air-conditioning work at the newly constructed building.
Saroj and his younger brother Avinash were among the nine people on the fourth floor, engaged in welding work and fitting air-conditioners.
“We were doing the work of AC insulation on the fourth floor when we noticed the smoke. Within a few seconds, the smoke became so dense that we were unable to see anything. We ran towards the window, and jumped down to a lower floor. There was debris lying there and we got hurt, but we ran down the steps and out of the building,” Avinash said.
“I kept shouting for my brother, and we all waited, but Bipin never came,” he said.
Exactly one month ago, on December 22, Bipin had come to Pune to work with his brother, who had arrived in the city two months earlier and was able to earn Rs 10,500 a month. The brothers, and Rama Shankar, belong to UP’s Pratapgarh district.
Police and fire brigade officials said the fire had become intense because of the presence of inflammable material like PVC, plastic, plywood and acrylic at the site.
The bodies of those killed were taken initially to Noble Hospital and then sent for post mortem to the Sassoon general hospital.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Police commissioner Amitabh Gupta were among those who visited the hospital. Avinash said some of his family members would reach Pune Friday.
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