A 67-year-old man was killed and several offices gutted in a major fire that broke out at Himalaya House on Kasturba Gandhi Marg here in the early hours of Monday.

The 12-storey building in Connaught Place houses around 70 corporate offices -- most of which belong to banking, insurance and other finance companies besides chartered accountants.

According to a fire department official, they were informed about the fire around 6-30 a.m. “The fire originated from the third floor of the building and spread to the floors above it,” said the official.

The fire engulfed five floors – from the third to the seventh floor – and the official said the fourth floor was particularly damaged, the police said. Several window had to be broken and smoke was seen coming out from different parts of the building.

The deceased, identified as Jai Bhagwan, was trapped on the seventh floor of the building. Bhagwan, who had sustained burns, was taken out by the firemen and was taken to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital where he was declared brought dead. Bhagwan was posted as a security guard at the building. No other injuries were reported.

An employee working in one of the offices inside the building said the building was almost empty when the fire started. He said he and his colleagues were alerted well in advance about the fire. He feared that documents kept in his office could have been gutted and there were no back up available.

Others present at the spot also echoed similar fears.

Scores of firemen and 28 fire-tenders deployed to bring the fire under control took more than six hours to douse it completely. They were assisted by the New Delhi Municipal Council in the operation.

“The Delhi Fire Service’s fire-fighting operation was assisted by the Fire Department of NDMC. The NDMC Fire Department provided 15 firemen along with two vehicles (one water tender and one emergency response vehicle). The Fire Department of the NDMC also assisted this operation by providing water from various water storage tanks located in the nearby NDMC buildings to meet the water requirement,” said an NDMC official.

After receiving a call informing about the eruption of fire, the NDMC also sent personnel from its electricity department to Himalaya House to disconnect the electricity supply of the building, said the official. He, however, added that the electricity supply in the building continued for some time due to automatic switching on of private generator sets in the building.

The fire was doused around 1 p.m. A case has been registered under section 304-A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code. The DFS is yet to assess the extent of damage.

Some objections regarding certain fire safety equipment in the building had been notified by the DFS in 2007 but there has been no compliance, said a DFS official.

It is learnt that the building was under renovation and a firm was in charge of its maintenance.

The police sealed the building and said it will be reopened only after the DFS and NDMC authorities carry out a fire safety check and issue a no objection certificate.

The cause of the fire is not known yet.

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