A massive fire at Nampally’s Bazaar Guard area killed nine individuals in a four-storeyed residential building on Monday morning in Hyderabad. Officials from the Fire department suspect the mishap to be caused by firecrackers. The incident was reported in Balaji Residence, a four-storey building which has 16 flats with families residing in all of them.
The Bazaar Guard area, more commonly known as Bazarghat, is a densely populated residential area with workshops and small scale industries located in the central part of Hyderabad close to the Hyderabad Railway Station.
“The firefighters rescued 21 persons in the building. Three individuals were found unconscious on the stairs and one had burn injuries. Preliminary enquiry revealed that the locals were bursting crackers till 2 a.m. on Monday ,” informed Y. Nagi Reddy Director-General of Telangana State Fire department. “The locals noticed the fire and alerted the first floor residents who vacated it. We suspect that the watchman might have set fire to the garbage swept up in the morning, which might have had crackers. However, this is still being investigated,” said the official.
Officials said that seven firefighting vehicles, including bronto skylift, simon snorkel, three multi-purpose trucks (MPT), and two water bowsers, were pressed into service. A distress call was received at the fire control room at 9.34 a.m., stating that sparks were coming from the stilt level of the building.
Around 12 barrels and 38 jerry cans filled with chemicals (superplastering admixture) were removed and placed outside the building to prevent the blaze from spreading further. Ramesh Jaiswal, who has been identified as the owner of the stored chemicals has been booked under Section 304 (II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder). “He is absconding,” said the police.
K. Madhusudana Rao, District Fire Officer (DFO) Secunderabad said that the deceased were from three families. They were identified as Md Azam ( 57), his wife Rehman Sultana (50) and their children, Hasib-r-Rahman (32), Faiza Sameena (26), Tahura Farheen (35) and her children Taroba (13), Manha (6), and a couple, Md Zakir Hussain (66) and Nikhat Sultana (50). Another individual rescued from the building, Mohammad Talha (17) is undergoing treatment at Osmania General Hospital.
The DFO said that the fire had initially started at the stilt of the building, which was filled with chemicals in plastic drums and other flammable materials, including fibreglass rolls. The fire then quickly spread to all the upper floors.
Meanwhile, Rahul Bojja, the secretary of disaster management, issued a memo to provide gratuitous relief and furnish the compliance report to the government for taking further action. “It is further requested that, in view of the prevailing model code of conduct, the action taken be intimated to the Election Commission, as stipulated in the compendium of instructions regarding the model code of conduct,” read the official memo.
Observations by the Fire Department
“Even in the rear portion of the building, similar materials were dumped, which led the fire to spread quickly. The smoke then quickly engulfed the staircase. The inmates in the upper floors were trapped in smoke and fire. We have received no complaints of storage of hazardous materials in the building premises,” said the official.
Union Minister and Telangana Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president G. Kishan Reddy, Minister for Municipal Administration & Urban Development K.T. Rama Rao visited the accident site.
President condoles loss of life
President Droupadi Murmu offered condolences to the bereaved families. In a post on X (formerly Twitter), the President said: “Pained by the unfortunate loss of lives due to fire accident in a building in Hyderabad. I express my deepest condolences to the bereaved families. I wish for speedy recovery of the injured”.