Firefighter killed during rescue operation at battery warehouse

The fire broke out at a unit at Peeragarhi in west Delhi on Thursday.

The fire broke out at a unit at Peeragarhi in west Delhi on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

A total of 17 people sustained injuries in the incident, say police

A firefighter was killed during a rescue operation at a battery warehouse in west Delhi’s Peeragarhi industrial area where a fire broke out on Thursday morning, the police said. The structure collapsed following an explosion and 17 people sustained injuries in the incident, they said.

The victim, Amit Baliyan, was inside the building carrying out a rescue operation when a part of the building collapsed following a loud sound resembling a cylinder explosion. Amit, along with 13 other firefighters, got trapped in the rubble. All except Amit were safely rescued by other firefighters. Amit remained untraceable for around four hours, said a Delhi Fire Service (DFS) officer.

“Amit was later located and oxygen was supplied to him. He was immediately rescued and rushed to Balaji Hospital in Paschim Vihar where he succumbed to injuries. A total of 40 fire engines and hydraulic fire-fighting vehicles were pressed into service,” said DFS Director Atul Garg.

The police said they received a call around 4.15 a.m. at Paschim Vihar (West) police station regarding fire at a battery warehouse. A police team reached the outlet-cum-godown of batteries and inverters at Peeragarhi’s Udyog Nagar. It was found that the fire started in the basement of the building that was used for storing batteries.

“We immediately informed the DFS, DDMA, NDRF and CATS for the rescue operation. A total of 17 people, including three workers of the warehouse and 14 firefighters sustained injuries and were shifted to a hospital,” said a senior police officer.

Around 7 a.m., when the firefighters were inside the building carrying out the operation, the ceiling of the building collapsed following an explosion. “We are trying to remove all combustible materials from the building and other materials used in the manufacturing of battery,” said a firefighter.

The firefighters faced difficulties inside building due to the toxic smoke from the burned batteries. “One can see thick black smoke emerging out of the building for the last ten hours. It is highly toxic and we used oxygen cylinders during the operation. Batteries were blasting and acid was spilling all over. It was not a usual fire call,” said another firefighter.

Till the filing of this report, the cooling operation was under way.

Rajinder Singh Sagar, ADCP (Outer) said that an FIR has been registered under IPC Sections 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 304 A (causing death by negligence) at Paschim Vihar (West) police station.

₹1 crore compensation

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced an ex gratia of ₹1 crore to Amit’s family.

“Amit Baliyan laid down his life while serving the people of Delhi. Nothing can bring back a loved one lost, but Delhi government will give ₹1 crore as financial assistance to his family. It is the least we can do as a society...” Mr. Kejriwal said in a tweet.

“Deeply anguished over news of death of fire operator Amit Balyan Amit along with his team members fought bravely to save lives of many people. I salute his bravery. My sincere condolences to his family members. All possible assistance to be extended to the injured and bereaved family [sic],” L-G Anil Baijal said in a tweet.

Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari alleged that the Delhi government was not taking required steps to prevent such incidents. “This incident of fire is not a natural one and hence our duty should be to find out the reasons and take measures. The death of a fireman is an irreparable loss to his family. However, many lives have been saved due to the bravery of the firemen,” Mr. Tiwari said.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 6:54:02 PM |

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