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Inferno guts over 45 shanties
Sakal Times | Thursday, 22 October 2015 AT 05:13 PM IST
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Pune: Dussehra festivities turned into gloom and despair for the residents of Meenatai Thackeray Vasahat at Indira Nagar slum in Gultekdi, near Market Yard, following an outbreak of a massive fire on Thursday at about 3:45 pm.

Over 45 shanties were completely gutted and about 20 others damaged in the raging inferno, which lasted for over three hours as firemen struggled to make their way inside the congested smoke-filled slum to douse the fire.

Fire department officials suspect that the explosion of a cooking gas cylinder or a short circuit in one of the shanties led to the fire. It was not immediately known which shanty the fire originated from.

Twelve fire tenders of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and over 50 firemen were involved in the operation. Eight slum dwellers sustained injuries while trying to put out the fire. Fortunately, there were no fatalities.

The slum, spread over a radius of over three kilometres, houses over 3,000 shanties. Over 9,000 people reside in the slum. According to slum dwellers, after the initial explosion of an LPG cylinder, the blaze spread rapidly.

Ambika Jadhav (40) recalled, “I was performing pooja when I suddenly saw flames enveloping my house. The roof of the house collapsed. My house was completely gutted in the fire. Our entire family rushed out and took refuge on the road.”

Pandemonium prevailed inside the slum as people rushed out of their shanties with whatever belongings they could. “There were three more LPG gas explosions after the initial one. Those three gas explosions were due to the fire that spread quickly,” said firemen.

Chief Fire Officer Prashant Ranpise said that fireman Kailash Shinde was admitted to hospital after he fell during the fire fighting operation. In the midst of the raging flames, firemen had a tough time taking water pipes to the affected parts of the slum. Parts of the water pipes were burnt in the fire.

There were many electric and cable television wires dangling overhead, making movement of the firemen difficult.

A 10-feet deep swamp also compounded difficulties as it posed problems in taking the water pipes inside the slum. 

Local resident Bharat Sharma, who helped the firemen, said, “We had to throw around 30 cooking gas cylinders from the shanties as we feared the fire would spread. It was a tough job for firemen to control the fire.”

Local BJP MLA Madhuri Misal, who reached the spot, promised that the affected families would be provided food and shelter at Sant Namdeo School.

Senior Police Inspector of Market Yard police station S Babar said a team of 50 police officials were deployed at the spot to prevent any untoward incident.

PMC Additional Municipal Commissioner Omprakash Bakoria said that a detailed investigation will be carried out into the incident. “The PMC will provide water and electricity in the school where the slum dwellers have been put up,” he added. The electricity supply in the shanties was cut off to avoid further damage.


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