Fire in Central Delhi building claims two lives

Updated - November 17, 2015 07:34 am IST

Published - November 17, 2015 12:00 am IST - New Delhi:

The incident was reported from West Patel Nagar’s Block-26 around 8 a.m. on Monday.Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

The incident was reported from West Patel Nagar’s Block-26 around 8 a.m. on Monday.Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

A fire in a four-storey residential building in Central Delhi on Monday morning claimed the life of a mentally-challenged man and a 30-year-old woman. The incident was reported from West Patel Nagar’s Block-26 around 8 a.m. on Monday.

A road accident nine years ago had left Rakesh Bandola, 39, with neurological disorders. According to his relatives, his condition was caused by a “blood clot” in his head.

The accident also left Bandola with a curious habit of collecting garbage from the streets and storing it in his ground-floor flat in West Patel Nagar. This thick layer of garbage in the flat led to the fire spreading quickly, not leaving Bandola any chance to escape.

The woman killed in the fire has been identified as Sneha. Employed at a local garments shop, she had rented the second floor of the building and lived alone. Police said Sneha possibly died of asphyxiation as there were no burns on her body.

Apart from the deceased, there were at least half-a-dozen others in the building at the time of the fire. Most of them were woken up by locals alerting them.

“Since the exit route on the ground floor was inaccessible, we went to the terrace and climbed over to the next building,” said Hussein, a survivor.

A neighbour, Rakesh Ahuja, said he had seen Sneha trying to alert everyone. “Amidst the commotion, no one bothered about her. She was brought out of the building by fire fighters, but was unresponsive by then,” said Mr. Ahuja. She was declared brought dead at a hospital.

The fire fighters later brought Bandola out, but it was too late.

The bodies have been sent for post-mortem and a case of causing death by negligence has been registered.

Police said the source of the fire is yet to be identified. They said there were no indications of foul play yet.

However, some locals suspected mischief as they claimed the fire began in a motorcycle parked outside the building.

The incident was not the first to occur at Bandola’s flat. “Around a year ago, Bandola suffered 85 per cent burns after a gas cylinder in his kitchen caught fire. He was lucky to survive at that time,” said Bandola’s sister, Rekha.

Father to a girl but divorced around nine years ago, Bandola lived alone on the ground floor. He owned the first floor as well, but had not rented it out. He was reportedly making money by lending to locals on interest. Though his family had repeatedly cautioned him against storing garbage, Bandola would venture out into the streets every day. Removal of burnt garbage from the flat continued till late on Monday evening.

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