Ahmedabad: A very low ceiling, forcing the students to sit on tyres instead of chairs, fed the fire that broke out at a coaching class in Surat and claimed 22 lives last Friday. (Also read: Meet 23-Year-old Who Saved Lives)
Gujarat Chief Secretary J N Singh said that some other inflammable materials, including flex, also added to the fire at the four-storeyed Takshashila Arcade in Sarthana, Surat.
“The fire spread 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 of chairs for the students,” Singh was quoted as saying by PTI.
He added that fire tenders could not reach the site because they were stationed around 45 minutes away. “High-capacity fire tenders took time to reach the spot as they were stationed at a considerable distance, around 45 minutes away. It hampered the fire-fighting operation to some extent,” he added.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Surat police arrested two persons in connection with the case. Identified as Harshul Vekharia and Jignesh Paghdal, the duo was arrested a day after the coaching class owner, Bhargav Butani, was held.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has directed Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Development Department, Mukesh Puri, to conduct a thorough probe.
Chief Secretary Singh said that the Surat incident has had municipalities across the state scurrying to identify buildings which haven’t complied with fire safety norms and are, as such, fire-prone.
He added that 713 teams have been formed by municipalities and corporations to identify such buildings. He said that over 9,900 buildings housing tuition classes, malls and hospitals have been reviewed and over 9,300 premises have been issued show-cause notices too.
The owners of all these buildings have been warned to install fire-fighting systems or the government will seal the buildings.