The owner of a coaching centre in a complex in Gujarat’s Surat, where 22 people, mostly students died in a massive fire, used tyres in place of chairs, Gujarat Chief Secretary JN Singh said today. The presence of the inflammable material caused the fire to spread quickly.
“The fire spread very quickly because highly inflammable materials, such as flex, were used… The ceiling of the coaching institute was just five feet high. Since one cannot sit on a chair in such a room, the owner used tyres instead to seat students,” Mr Singh told reporters in Gandhinagar.
The Chief Secretary added that the blaze got out of control because fire engines took about 45 engines to reach the building. “High-capacity fire tenders took time to reach the spot as they were stationed at a considerable distance,” he said.
Twenty-two students died in the devastating fire that engulfed the four-storey Takshashila Arcade in Surat on Friday.
The owner of the institute, Bhargav Butani, was arrested on Saturday. The builders — Harshul Vekaria and Jignesh Paghdal, are on the run. Two officials of the Surat fire department have been negligence.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has asked Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Development Department to conduct a thorough inquiry and submit a report by tomorrow.
After the tragedy, all civic bodies in Gujarat have undertaken a massive drive to identify buildings which do not comply with fire safety norms, the chief secretary said.
“All these municipalities and corporations have formed 713 teams to identify such buildings. We have already examined over 9,900 buildings housing tuition classes, malls or hospitals, and issued show-cause notices to over 9,300 premises. Owners have been warned that they should install fire-fighting systems or else the buildings will be sealed,” Mr Singh said.
“This incident was a wake-up call for us and we are sorry and sad about it. We are taking all necessary steps to ensure that such incidents do not take place in future,” he said.