Over 20 people played Good Samaritans and rescued almost all the residents from the inferno; three of the saviours sustained injuries
Before fire officials could reach the Chira Bazaar area in Girgaum late Thursday night after a stove explosion in Meethawala Building, locals stepped up and were able to save almost all the residents. When the fire fighters arrived, out of the 33 families only eight people were still to be rescued.
Mahhabat Singh and Swapnil Bhagat (below), who rescued the building residents. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Out of the 20-25 locals, who took initiative and ensured that people in the building are safe, three sustained injuries.
While 52-year-old Mahhabat Singh sustained 25 per cent burns when he was caught off guard by the cylinder explosion, Swapnil Bhagat (25) suffered an electric shock while trying to disconnect the electric supply of the building.
To help fire brigade reach the spot quickly, the residents also cleared the congested lane leading to the building.
Singh, who stays with three other roommates, two buildings away from Meethawala Building, said he heard the commotion and then the neighbours told him that a short circuit had caused the fire. Singh didn’t wait for his roommates and rushed to save the people in danger.
“My first save was a 20-year-old female and the second time I went in, one more person helped me rescue a senior citizen. But when I rushed in the third time, I heard the loudest noise of my life and was knocked over by a wall due to the impact,” said Singh.
“One guy accompanied me to the hospital. There was no cab and we stopped an auto rickshaw that dropped us at GT Hospital,” said Singh. He added that till the time he left, there was no sign of fire officials at the spot.
On the other side, residents formed a well-coordinated rescue effort to ensure that none of the 33 families in the building get trapped in the fire. Using ropes and ladders, the residents were brought down and ferried to the hospital in the ambulance provided by Shiv Sena workers staying in the same vicinity. Six of people rescued were sent to G T Hospital before the fire officials reached the spot.
While the youngsters tried to contain the situation, they also cleared the path for the fire brigade. “There were vehicles and handcarts parked on both the sides of the road. We knew that any further delay could put lives in danger since there were still many cylinders inside the building and it’s adjacent to other buildings,” said Mohan Dokre, one of the many youths, who also sustained minor burn injuries while saving others.
After fire brigade and BMC’s disaster management teams reached the spot, accompanied by the Emergency Medical Service ambulances, four people who got hurt were rescued and sent to the hospital. Officials confirmed that two firemen too sustained burns and were treated in the EMS vans.
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