Lack of fire safety blamed for blaze that took nine lives in Hyderabad

A fire that spread uncontrollably in the ground floor of an apartment building in Bazar Ghat area of Hyderabad’s Nampally area killed nine people on Monday, November 13. Seven of the nine people who died in the fire were from the same family. Telangana State Disaster Response & Fire Services Department stated that the five-storeyed building containing 16 apartments was not required to have No Objection Certificate as it wasn’t a high rise building. In a statement, the Fire Services Department said the building lacked fire safety systems which had to be installed as per the national building code and periodically checked. “Being a residential apartment, the stilt floor is meant for parking. Instead, chemical tins and drums, Fibreglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) rolls, raw materials, polyester resin and related products were dumped/stored. Further, smoke quickly engulfed the stairwell of the only available staircase,” read the statement. Speaking to the media, Mohammed Azam, a relative of seven people from a family who died in the mishap, said three women, two girls and two men, all residents of Red Hills in Hyderabad, were tenants in the apartment. The Deputy Commissioner said the fire started from a car that was being repaired in the garage on the ground floor of the building. “Within a few seconds, the fire spread to the upper floors. A few families living on the second, third, and fourth floors were trapped,” he said. The fire broke out due to unauthorised storage of chemicals in a plastic drum and other flammable materials in the stilt floor (garage) of the building. It then spread upwards vertically to the remaining floors trapping the residents. Fire force officials rescued 21 residents with the help of ladders and staircases. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) offered condolences to the families of the victims. He also directed officials to ensure quality medical care for those injured and to take appropriate measures to avoid such accidents. Responding to the incident, Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan expressed condolences and also sought a report from the authorities on the issue. Hyderabad district has witnessed a total of 6,525 fire and rescue calls from January 2019 to October 2023, of which 1092 calls were made this year alone. A total of 46 people have died in these incidents over the past five years, according to a reply to RTI activist Kareem Ansari from the Telangana State Disaster Response and Fire Services Department.