Life in Gurgaon

Woman dies trying to save others after fire breaks out in Gurugram condominium

Source: Hindustan Times

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A 33-year-old woman, who died of asphyxiation after a fire broke out at a condominium in Gurugram late on Sunday night, alerted neighbours by knocking at their doors and helped many escape in time, police said.

The fire, suspected to be caused by a short circuit, broke out in an electrical shaft on the ground floor of a tower at Tulip Orange condominium in Sector 69 around 2am and spread all the way up to the ninth floor, engulfing corridors with heavy smoke, fire department officials said.

Rescuers found Swati Garg lying unconscious near the terrace door almost an hour after the blaze started. She died before reaching the hospital, police said.

Gurugram police commissioner KK Rao said a case under section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code was registered at Badshahpur police station against the developer and the maintenance agency.

Swati, her husband, Girish Garg, their four-year-old daughter, Anjali, and Swati’s mother, Vaishali Tikekar, who was visiting them, stepped out of their fifth-floor apartment after the blaze.

Around 200 residents live in 40 flats in the tower. Swati and Girish moved to their three-bedroom flat at the condominium with their daughter this May. Swati was an interior designer from Pune. Her husband is from Madhya Pradesh and works in Gurugram.

The burnt electrical unit at Tulip Orange society, tower B6, in sector 70, Gurugram, India, on Monday, October 08, 2018. (Parveen Kumar / HT Photo )

In the FIR (a copy of which is with Hindustan Times), Girish said the family realised a fire had broken out after they woke up after a power cut around 2.15am. The family started descending the only staircase, but on reaching a lower floor, realised the smoke was too dense to go any further and started climbing back.

“I took my daughter and ran upstairs. My wife and mother-in-law were walking behind. There was too much smoke on the eighth floor and I saw a door was open in one of the (vacant) apartments and took refuge with my daughter. Swati was walking behind with her mother, an asthma patient. I thought she had taken refuge in one of the other apartments,” said Girish.

He said he found out later that Swati was going upstairs with her mother. “However, Swati and her mother decided to split and she proceeded towards the terrace in the hope of finding some fresh air and found the two terrace doors locked,” he said.

Some residents said Swati knocked at the doors of people living on the fifth, sixth and seventh floors and alerted them. While some of her neighbours said she tried to open the terrace doors in the hope of providing much-needed ventilation, others said that she was left behind in the commotion.

Vipin Rawat, a station house officer at Badhsahpur police station, said the residents from fifth, sixth and seventh floor evacuated their apartments and rushed to two vacant apartments on the eighth floor to take shelter.

“The victim tried to save the residents who were asleep and knocked at their door and asked them to come out. She went up to open the terrace gate so that the fumes could pass through and people could get fresh air to breathe,” said Rawat.

Around 200 residents live in 40 flats in the tower at Tulip Orange society where fire broke out on Monday, October 8, 2018. (Parveen Kumar / HT Photo )

IS Kashyap, an assistant divisional fire safety officer, said, “Upon verifying our records, we found out that the society had the requisite NOC (No Objection Certificate) and fire safety norms. However, the doors to the terrace were locked, which is a clear violation of norms.”

Kashyap said his department received a call at 2.28am, and four fire tenders — two each from sector 29 and sector 37 fire stations — were rushed to the spot.

The fire department began evacuating residents floor by floor. Officials said they evacuated everyone from the building by 3.45 am. It took officials 25 minutes to douse the blaze. Girish, his daughter and mother-in-law were evacuated around 3.30 am from the eighth floor.

Residents said Swati was taken to Park hospital in Sector 47, where doctors declared her dead. Autopsy said Swati died of asphyxia, a condition when the body is deprived of oxygen.

No houses were gutted in the incident though the residents had to stay without power on Monday. “The RWA (Residents’ Welfare Association) and maintenance team offered us some vacant houses as temporary accommodation but I chose to stay at a friend’s place in one of the other towers. The management has told us that power will resume by Tuesday evening,” said Alka Kumari, a resident.

Fire department officials said the situation could have been much worse had the fire spread to a locked apartment on the eighth floor where more than 30 paint tins were found with “highly flammable” contents.

Shailesh Ranjan, maintenance head of Tulip Infratech, said, “All the Tulip buildings have necessary approvals and NOCs from the concerned departments, and are equipped with fire-fighting equipment.”