Run by NGO Earth Saviour Foundation, the shelter home meant for elderly and differently-abled, was being run in tents with plastic roofs.

A 27-year-old bedridden woman and an elderly man died while several others were rendered homeless after a major fire broke out at a ‘shelter for the homeless’ in South Delhi's posh Vasant Kunj area late on Thursday night.

According to the police, the exact cause of the fire has yet to be ascertained but prima facie it appears to be a case of short circuit. Eighteen fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the fire that broke out at 2 a.m. when most of the inmates were asleep.

“While most of them were sleeping, some were watching television. They got to know about the fire and managed to pull out everyone. But an elderly man, Ramesh, who was near the source of fire, and a woman, Poonam, who was bedridden due to an accident could not be saved,” said Ravi Kalra, who runs the shelter home.

Run by NGO Earth Saviour Foundation, the shelter home meant for elderly and differently-abled, was being run in tents with plastic roofs. According to Mr. Kalra, they were continuing with this arrangement because the facility was built on leased land and they were not allowed to construct a permanent structure as per agreement.

The fire that started from a storeroom, engulfed the entire structure, leaving only iron trunks and almirahs behind.

Police have registered a case of negligence under Section 304 A of the IPC against unknown persons and have taken up investigation.

The lease agreement had ended in October last year and the NGO was supposed to vacate the land. According to sources, the police are also investigating the possibility of a conspiracy behind the fire.

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