CP highrise floors gutted, trapped security guard dies

Flames

Short-circuit triggers the blaze, renovation material inside shops fuel it; 4 floors gutted, property in 3 others damaged; 30 fire tenders fight blaze.

Four floors of the eleven-storey Himalaya House were gutted and three others were damaged in a "serious fire" that broke out at 6.20 am on Monday. The office complex mainly has commercial establishments.

A security guard, Jai Bhagwan (57), died of asphyxia, after he collapsed on the staircase between the ninth and the eighth floors. Fire officials said it seemed Bhagwan was trying to escape when he lost consciousness.

Two other security guards Shiv Kumar and Raj Kumar were rescued from the ninth and third floors.

Rescue officials said they came to know of people being trapped inside when one of the men stuck inside called a relative, who called the Fire department.

A total of 30 fire tenders were dispatched to the spot. Officials said the blaze was brought under control in five and half hours.

Officials said the fire started on the third floor, inside the office of Sriram Piston Pvt Ltd, an automobile spare parts shop. Renovation work was on at many of the 144 shops inside the building, including in Sriram Piston's shop. Plywood, adhesive boxes, loose cables and spare renovation material lying there fuelled the fire, which spread quickly, an official said.

Third to sixth floors were completely gutted and a portion of the seventh floor was also damaged in the blaze. Property on eighth and ninth floors was also damaged, the official said.

Fire officials suspect that a short-circuit triggered the fire and blasts of an LPG cylinder blast and an AC compressor intensified it.

Officials said the fire spread through the electrical shafts, staircases and open windows. "Had the shafts on each floor been shut, the fire could have been prevented from spreading," a senior Fire official said.

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