Trapped for 30 minutes, 7 ladies come face-to-face with dying in paying visitor blaze

NEW DELHI: Twenty-one-year-old Kriti shudders as she relives her 30 minutes of horror when a massive fire broke out at a paying guest accommodation in ‘s on Saturday. “Even a five-minute delay would have spelt the end for us,” she told TOI on Sunday.
A civil services aspirant, Kriti recalls her desperation at being stuck, along with six others women, on the first floor of the four-storey house even as the blaze engulfed the floor below – it was like a never-ending wait for help, she said. Fire officials said they received a distress call at 4.30pm and two tenders were immediately pressed into action. When the blaze couldn‘t be brought under control, another fire tender was sent. The fire was finally doused at 5.30pm, an officer said.

Police said the reason for the blaze was a short-circuit in an air conditioner on the ground floor. As the electricity meters burst due to excessive heat, there was no room left for the women to escape.

“I was in the washroom while my housemates were either busy studying or doing other household chores. It was one of them, Priyanka, who first raised alarm. Even as we tried to figure out our escape, smoke engulfed the entire house. There was nowhere to go,” Kriti said.

Her housemate, Shweta (20), said all of them gathered in the washroom as it was the only place on the floor with ventilation.

“All this while, we kept shouting for help. An uncle who lives next door tried to find his way in to help, but couldn‘t do much because of the smoke,” Shweta said. After almost 20 minutes – which seemed to them like years – the women heard a policeman shouting out at them. “Holding our breath, we rushed to the back door. It was difficult to see anything because of the thick smoke, but we managed to break a window. From there, were jumped on to a ladder that the policeman had placed there,” she said.

The incident has clearly left the women shaken. “I had shifted to this PG barely a month ago and this has been the most unpleasant experience of my life. I am going back to Mathura and don‘t plan to return anytime soon. It will take us a long time to get over this incident,” Kriti said. A senior police officer said a case of negligence had been registered against the owner of the house.

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