One person was killed and around five persons were injured in a fire that broke out in an akhara in the Maha Kumbh Mela in the early hours of Friday.
Around 30 makeshift tents were also gutted. The fire broke out at 2 a.m., just hours before the akharas marched in procession to the Sangam for the Basant Panchami Shahi Snan (royal bath), Divisional Commissioner Devesh Chaturvedi said.
The victim has been named as 72-year-old Mahavir Prasad from Rajasthan. The administration has announced Rs 2 lakh as compensation to his family, while others who have received burn injuries will received Rs 25,000 each.
According to eyewitnesses, the fire spread to the adjoining tents after a two-wheeler went ablaze in the initial fire. Several motorbikes were also engulfed in the fire.
The straw spread on the ground compounded the flame.
While others rushed out to save themselves leaving behind their belongings, Mr. Prasad could not escape, sources said.
As a precaution, the administration had cleared Kali Marg, the site of the fire, and shifted the pilgrims to elsewhere.
Officials added that the fire in the ashram of the Mahamandelshwar of the Maha Nirvani akhara in sector 4 could have been triggered by a short-circuit. The fire was brought under control after seven fire tenders were pressed immediately into service.
In another incident, around 10 tents were gutted in a fire in sector 9 late on Thursday. No injuries were reported.
There have been half-a-dozen fire related incidents in the mega event, including one on January 25 that claimed one life and left 18 injured. An LPG cylinder leakage triggered the fire, officials had said, after which the administration had circulated a list of do’s and don’t.
Friday's fire comes only five days after 36 people, including 29 women and a girl-child, were killed and at least 39 injured in a stampede in Allahabad Railway Station on Sunday. The station was teeming with thousands of pilgrims, who were making the journey home after a dip at the Sangam on Mauni Amavasya, the biggest of the Shahi Snans.