Former IPL cricketer loses two family members in Borivali fire
Apart from the casualties, house helps Lakshmi Bura (40) and Rajeshwari Bhartare (24) and Ranjan Shah (76) sustained major burns and are in the MICU ward in Shatabdi Hospital, Kandivali. Bhartare sustained nearly 100 percent burns. A fireman too was injured
MUMBAI: A Level 1 fire which was not supposed to be life-threatening unexpectedly took an ugly turn, claiming two lives at a housing society in Borivali West on Monday. Three others suffered major burns; one of them with 100 percent burns is battling for her life.
Glory Valthaty (43), sister of former IPL cricketer Paul Valthaty, and her six-year-old son Joshua, became the two casualties in the deadly blaze that spread from the first-floor kitchen of Flat No 121 to the fourth floor in Veena Santoor CHS. While the No 121 residents, including a nonagenarian, emerged unscathed, the fourth-floor residents of Flat No 421, where Valthathy and his family live, were unlucky.
Apart from the casualties, house helps Lakshmi Bura (40) and Rajeshwari Bhartare (24) and Ranjan Shah (76) sustained major burns and are in the MICU ward in Shatabdi Hospital, Kandivali. Bhartare sustained nearly 100 percent burns. A fireman too was injured.
P R Parulekar, a senior fire official told the media that the fire brigade received a call only at 12.30pm though the fire, according to residents, broke out at 11.30am. “In that one hour, the blaze took an ugly turn,” he said. “If we had been informed earlier, it could have been controlled. The first-floor kitchen was in flames.”
Parulekar said that the first-floor residents forgot to shut the door, and the smoke spread in the staircase and started moving rapidly upwards. The foam furniture, electric wiring and other inflammable items in the house caught fire, which produced soot and caused suffocation and choking.
“Someone called the residents of Flat No 421 to inform them about the fire and they panicked,” said Parulekar. “They opened the door and tried to go to upper floors and then downwards. They were trapped because they tried to escape.”
Chief fire officer Ravindra Ambulgekar told HT that in case of fire in a high rise, the best recourse for top-floor residents was to shut the windows and doors and stay put instead of trying to escape. “The main door should be kept ajar with a wet cloth, as soot and flames don’t enter then,” he said. “When people try to escape downstairs, they get trapped in the smoke in the staircase and suffocate.”
Parulekar said that prima facie, there were three reasons for the fire. “One reason could be that the lady on the first floor who had gone to fetch her kid from school left something on the gas,” he said. “However, she has refuted this. Secondly, there could be a gas leakage and lastly there was a wooden pooja mandir, which could have caught fire. We are still investigating.”
Nilesh Desai, secretary of Veena Santoor CHS, said that a 98-year-old woman who was alone on the first floor was rescued when the fire first broke out. “The daughter-in-law had gone to pick up her son from school and there was nobody in the kitchen,” he said. “The nonagenarian was luckily rescued by the fire brigade and shifted to a neighbouring flat.”
Desai said the firefighting systems were in working condition and residents had already used 10 to 15 fire extinguishers to douse the fire, but failed to control its intensity.
Valthaty had a narrow escape
Former IPL cricketer Paul Valthaty, who has played for Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals, had a narrow escape in Monday’s blaze, but two of his dear ones were not so lucky. His sister Glory Valthaty and her six-year-old son Joshua perished in the fire.
Gladston Behara, Glory’s brother-in-law, told HT that Glory had come down from the UK for 15 days to meet her ailing mother, along with her husband Noel and two children. Glory was a doctor at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra, before moving to Scotland after marriage. Paul comes from an illustrious family of doctors, with his mother and three sisters belonging to the medical profession.
“I too had come down from Kolkata to see Glory,” said Behara. “When I got down from the rickshaw, I saw fire erupting from the building. Glory was at home with Noel, Joshua and her daughter. Paul was to drop his children to school, and went downstairs along with his other sister Ruth, nephew and Glory’s elder daughter. They heard an explosion by the time they reached downstairs.”
Behara called Noel and told him that Glory had gone towards the terrace with Joshua. “When the fire officers went upstairs, they discovered their bodies on the first floor as they were probably trying to escape the billowing smoke and were trapped,” he said.