It took over 3 hours to control Devarachikkanahalli fire; cause remains a mystery
The apartment complex fire at Devarachikkanahalli near Bannerghatta Road on Tuesday broke out following an explosion-like sound eyewitnesses said, which led fire personnel to initially believe the blaze may have been caused by a cooking cylinder blast. The disaster claimed two lives – Bhagyarekha, 59, and her mother Lakshmidevi, 82.
However, Maruti, Regional Fire Officer, South, Fire and Emergency Services, who led the firefighting, said firemen had recovered two cooking gas cylinders from the kitchen of the flat and ruled out a gas leak as the cause of the fire. “It is a very preliminary stage to speculate on the cause of the fire at the flat. Only a detailed technical investigation can help us get that answer,” he said. As the flat was locked for six months and all electric appliances were switched on on Tuesday, this could have led to the fire, another fireman suspected. An electric short circuit usually doesn’t cause a blast, which was reported by eyewitnesses, officials said.
Three fire tenders conducted firefighting operations for over three hours to bring the fire under control. “The furniture, cots and mattresses have all caught fire, adding to the blaze. However, we managed to contain the fire to the flat and not allow it to spread,” Mr. Maruti said.
The personnel also brought an aerial ladder and high-end rescue equipment to try and rescue survivors. However, the bodies of the two women who had died were charred and no one else was there in the apartment, so the ladder was not used.
Ramakrishna, Joint Commissioner, Bommanahalli Zone, BBMP, who visited the spot, said the apartment – Ashrith Aspire – had received a plan approval in 2015 and the building was completed and occupied two years later. “The apartment has 72 flats in a Ground + 3 row of towers, so it is not a high rise and hence the fire audit was not done. A probe on building bylaws will be taken up,” he said.
As the fire broke out in the second floor flat at Ashrith Aspire apartment, all occupants of the72 flats at the time of the accident were evacuated. The residents were asked to not return to their homes for the day. While most shifted to their friends’ and relatives’ houses in the city, around 15 families who had nowhere to go spent the night at the clubhouse of a neighbouring apartment, where the BBMP and residents, arranged for food and bedding for the night.
Though the fire was successfully limited to the flat where the accident occurred, smoke billowing out of the windows of the flat entered two flats above it. Fire and Emergency Services cut off power supply to the entire apartment to prevent any further accident. “By the time the fire was put out, it was already dark and as power was also not there, we haven’t been able to conduct a thorough physical and technical examination of the building and fire risks due to electrical circuits. So we have advised the residents to stay away till such an examination is completed,” a senior official said.
“I was at the office when the accident occurred. My son was at home, he called and I rushed here. Our flat is diagonally opposite the flat where the accident occurred. We haven’t been able to go up and see. I hope our flat is not damaged,” said one of the residents to media persons.