New Delhi: A 28-year-old man was charred to death and his colleague injured inside an air-cooler godown in outer Delhi’s Mundka on Saturday night, when the fire department reported 205 calls regarding blazes in the national capital on Diwali day.
Despite a blanket ban on firecrackers this year — with fire department officials saying they anticipated much fewer calls — the number of fire incidents went down only marginally compared to 2019, when it received 245 calls. Of the last 13 years for which data of Diwali day was available, there were only five instances when the department received fewer fire calls.
Of the 205 calls, 129 were received during peak hours, between 6pm and midnight, Delhi Fire Services (DFS) officers said.
Atul Garg, director, Delhi Fire Services, said that this year saw a large number of fire incidents being reported from garbage-dumping grounds. “This time, there were 71 calls from garbage spots. This is a big number as we usually never receive more than 50 such calls from these areas,” Garg said.
“It is possible that people were bursting firecrackers at isolated spots away from their homes to avoid getting caught by authorities, and empty plots and garbage-dumping grounds are often the areas of choice in such cases,” he said.
The fire department said despite anticipating fewer fire incidents this Diwali, they hadn’t lowered their guard. “Apart from our 63 permanent fire stations, we had deployed fire tenders at 26 temporary spots. Last year we had deployed them at 21 such spots,” Garg said.
While no firefighters were injured during the day, the cooler factory fire in Mundka left one man, Sunil Kumar, dead and a 20-year-old man, Aditya, injured.
This particular blaze, though, was due a leak in a cooking gas cylinder rather than due to Diwali festivities.
A Koan, deputy commissioner of police (outer district), said there were 11 workers inside the godown when the fire broke out around 11.30pm. “While nine workers managed to escape unhurt, Kumar was charred to death and Aditya received 20% burns,” he said.
The police have registered a case of causing death due to negligence and are continuing their probe, Koan added.
Apart from the fatal fire, a restaurant, which was shut on Saturday, went up in flames in north-west Delhi’s Keshavpuram. Garg, said the fire broke out to due to a candle lit outside the restaurant.
“We controlled the fire soon, but the restaurant was destroyed and a car parked outside was partially burnt,” said Garg.
Another serious fire that could have turned dangerous was reported from Tigri in South Delhi on Saturday night.
Atul Kumar Thakur, deputy commissioner of police (south), said that a fire broke out in a locked plot that was surrounded on all sides by densely populated residential buildings. “Our police team reached the spot and immediately evacuated all the houses surrounding the plot. They removed several gas cylinders from the buildings and broke open the lock of the plot before the fire fighters reached the scene and controlled the blaze,” said Thakur.
The trigger for the fire is yet unknown, he added.