Carry fireplace extinguishers in automotive: Partner of blaze sufferer

BENGALURU: February 3, 2018, was supposed to be a regular day for Rajesh Kumar. But he is struggling to come to terms with reality as investigation into the death of his wife, , and son , remains inconclusive. They were charred to death after their car (Maruti Ritz) accidentally caught fire in the parking lot of their Whitefield apartment. TOI caught up with Rajesh over 40 days after the tragedy. Excerpts:
Have you come to terms with the incident?

As a family, we are still coping with the tragedy, and it‘s still very difficult for us to move on … It all seems too surreal. But my advice to car users is to keep a hammer and small fire extinguisher (if possible) in their cars at all times. In an emergency, we act in a primitive manner, and it‘s easy to remember where the hammer is than trying to open the boot or remove the headrest, which has rods to break the glass, but most people are unaware of it.

Are you happy with the investigation?

If i t‘s taking time to complete investigation in a transparent and scientific manner, we are OK with the wait. Our car was always serviced at authorized centres and the circumstances under which the incident happened indicate something was wrong with the power window switch – which is made by the manufacturer – and there may not be a service-related issue.

In your opinion, what could‘ve gone wrong?

I suspect a short-circuit that emitted thick smoke before the fire. The smoke is poisonous enough to render anybody unconscious within a minute, and my suspicion is based on the fact that both the car windows were open when Neha entered the basement, which indicate the AC was off. The probability of the engine, battery or AC catching fire is more when the car is moving, and not when parked. Neha only seemed to have closed the power window and the car locked itself (central locking) after the short-circuit. If it was anything else, she would‘ve been able to get out: Neha was an experienced driver who taught me how to drive.

Are you sure about these deductions?

I ha ve a mechanical engineering background, worked with for a few years and have a decent understanding of vehicle parts. My suspicion is also based on the fact that similar fire/short circuits have happened in India and other parts of the world. and even recalled their cars with faulty window switches which can potentially catch fire.

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