Hyderabad: 2 injured, 3 missing, hundreds displaced as authorities fight 12 hours to douse Secunderabad fire

The neighbourhood residents claimed their houses were severely damaged due to the fire and demanded that the building owner repair them.

ByAjay Tomar

Published Jan 20, 2023 | 4:35 AM Updated Jan 20, 2023 | 4:36 AM

Hyderabad: 2 injured, 3 missing and hundreds moved in massive Secunderabad fire in Ramgopalpet area.

At least two firefighters were injured and three people are missing — with around 500 people displaced — after a commercial building in the Ramgopalpet area of Secunderabad caught fire on Thursday, 19 January. 

Secunderabad’s Fire Regional Officer (FRO) Papaih Varla informed South First that the fire was reported around 11 am on Thursday.

“It took a total of 22 fire engines for more than 12 hours to bring the blaze under control, ” he added. 

To make matters worse, the building — which had six floors, including the ground floor, and two basements, referred to as cellars — was not accessible from the sides. 

As a result, the firefighters could only use the front of the building to try and bring the fire under control. 

Meanwhile, the residents in the neighbouring buildings were evacuated and given the option to spend the night at a nearby shelter.

They protested, claiming that their houses were severely damaged due to the flames, and demanded that they be repaired either by the authorities or the owner of the building that caught fire.

Challenges for firefighters

The Telangana Fire Services had other factors to contend with when it came to dousing the flames.

For example, they said resins and synthetic materials present in the building fueled the flames. 

Arriving at the spot, the firefighters used two Bronto skylifts, two rescue tenders, and a hazmat fire truck to look for and extricate people from the building.

Secunderabad fire: Firefighters trying to completely douse the flames around 7:20 pm in Ramgopalpet .

Firefighters trying to completely douse the fire in Ramgopalpet, Secunderabad. (Ajay Tomar/South First)

They managed to rescue four people — one by ladder and three using the skylifts — in the earlier part of the day. 

However, they also received word that three people were trapped in the building. The trio was yet to be found late in the night, when the fire was brought under control.

The kin of one of the missing people, identified as Wasim, told South First that the three were not even supposed to be in the Hyderabad building during the fire, and that they had come to help out a relative. 

The kin added that the phone of one of them was responsive till around 4 pm, after which it could not be reached. 

Meanwhile, at least two firefighters were said to have been injured due to backdraft as they breached windows to enter the burning building in Ramgopalpet.

“One of them is in critical condition and is being treated in the ICU,” Fire Department Additional DG Nagi Reddy told reporters.

Neighbours affected

Secunderabad Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO) Shailaja B told South First that they had to evacuate the entire lane — which has around 130 houses — as the fire continued late into the night.

“Around 500 people had to be evacuated and were given the option to spend the night at the community hall Terapanth Bhavan,” she said.

Of them, about 150 chose to spend the night there, while the rest managed to find another place — like a relative’s home — for the night. 

Secunderabad fire: Ramgopalpet residents protesting and demanding authorities to repair damaged houses.

Ramgopalpet residents protesting and demanding authorities to repair damaged houses. (Ajay Tomar/South First)

However, at least 13 houses around the building in the Ramgopalpet area on fire experienced extensive damage. in Secunderabad.

In many cases, walls developed cracks while rooftop tanks lost integrity and could not retain any water.

Smoke and heat also made living inside the houses impossible. 

Beautician Priyanka was one such person whose house sustained damage due to the fire. 

“The smoke entered in my house and even in the kitchen. The walls are damaged. Mine and others’ should home be repaired by the owner of the building that caught fire or authorities. This is my only demand,” she told South First.

Other residents, including a boutique owner Asharani Bhandari and daily wager A Srikanth — also had a similar demand.

They alleged that the owner of the building did not follow safety measures while constructing the cellars around a year ago.

Secunderabad building code violated?

Fire Department officials hinted at similar irregularities in the building.

As per reports, they said three of the building’s floors were constructed without proper permissions.

“GHMC officials would take a decision on demolishing the building on Friday morning after examining the fire-affected building in Secunderabad,” Reddy said.