Secunderabad at the centre of four major fires in past one year

March 17, 2023 11:28 pm | Updated 11:28 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Thursday’s blaze at the Swapnalok Complex is the fourth such mishap in the past year, in which several lives were lost. In a strange coincidence, Secunderabad has been the stage for all the unfortunate incidents at various locations.

A total 29 persons fell victim to fire in all these incidents put together, the occurrence of which in each case is invariably attributable to least attention paid to fire norms/ building regulations.

A total 12 migrant labourers died last March in a fire that broke out in an illegally-run scrap godown in New Bhoiguda.

In September last year, fire from an explosion in a basement used illegally for storage of electric vehicles resulted in death of eight guests housed in a luxury hotel on the upper floors of the same building. While the structure was in violation of several building norms, no action was taken as an application was pending under the Building Regularisation Scheme. Fire equipment, though installed for namesake in the building, had no connection whatsoever to any water source.

As recently as in January this year, another massive inferno in Deccan Mall on the Minister Road shook Secunderabad, where the total number of casualties could only be surmised by the identity of workers who went missing. Only one body was found, that too in such a condition that DNA profiling had to be done to ascertain identity.

The structure that eventually had to be pulled down due to heavy damage in fire, was built in violation of the number of floors permitted, and in doing so, circumvented mandatory fire safety norms required in multi-storey buildings.

The latest mishap on Thursday which snuffed out six young lives was only waiting to happen. It has been reported that the fire equipment was outdated, fire exit was locked, and multiple notices had been issued to the management which went unheeded.

Officials from GHMC shared that several lives could be saved in the incident, solely due to absence of violations regarding setback spaces around the complex. The firemen had enough leeway to operate hydraulic lifts, which proved lifesaving, an official said.

It is also a reminder about how strict enforcement of adherence could save lives. The Enforcement, Vigilance & Disaster Management wing of GHMC had recently conducted inspections of several buildings on six major stretches of the city in a pilot survey, and found clay ovens being run, and LPG cylinders stored in basements of landmark hotels and establishments.

Similar surveys carried out throughout the city could unearth potential fire hazards in thousands.

Meanwhile, GHMC, through a press release, informed that JNTU has been requested for evaluation of the building housing Swapnalok Complex for structural stability in the aftermath of the fire. The complex has been temporarily shut down for further operations till the report comes.

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