New Delhi, When the Verma family organised a birthday party for 12-year-old Harshu on Thursday, they had no inkling that it would be the last for her and some of them. The girl, her brother, their father and grandfather are dead while her mother was badly burnt as fire swept their home here shortly after the celebrations. The incident occurred in Dilshad colony under Seemapuri area of east Delhi early on Friday.
A Delhi Fire Service Officer said a call was received at 3 a.m. about the blaze which started the ground floor’s parking area and subsequently spread to the other floors of the four-storey building. The cause was suspected to be a short-circuit in a electronic meter junction box in parking area.
Police said that the bodies of Harshu, 12, her father Sanjay Verma, 40, grandfather Vijay Verma, 63, and brother Chiku, 4, were found on the staircase of their second floor flat and they seemed to have died due to asphyxiation. Harshu’s mother Mona Verma, 34, received 40 to 50 per cent burn injuries and Binesh Rathi, 40, who jumped from the first floor for safety got injured. They are being treated in Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital here.
Mona’s younger sister Happy and her younger daughter Dishu, 10, saved their life by taking shelter at neighbour R.K Sharma’s flat at third floor. Himani Chandra, a neighbour who informed police about the incident, told IANS: “The whole family was happy and celebrating the birthday of their daughter Harshu on Thursday evening and later went off to sleep at around 11.30 a.m. The family was fast asleep when the fire started at around 2.50 a.m. following which we saw smoke and heard loud cries. We immediately informed the fire department as well as police about the incident.”
Vijay Verma worked as a transporter, his son, Sanjay Verma worked as a medical representative in a Delhi-based company and the family were staying there for the last 10 years. “Eleven fire tenders took two hours to douse the blaze. Police suspect the Verma family tried to get out of their second-floor apartment through the stairs but got caught in the flames and smoke and died of suffocation,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police Nupur Prasad.
The other occupants of the building, which houses 15 flats, either stayed on their balcony or rushed to the rooftop to escape the fire. “The fire broke out into the electric meter due to short circuit leading to minor explosion and spread to a two wheeler parked adjacent to it. The blaze spread soon to other 15 bikes parked in the surroundings. The smoke of petrol and burning leather generated from the bikes probably filled in the house where victims were sleeping and responsible for suffocation,” said fire service officer Vipin Kantal.
Meanwhile the narrow lanes and wrongly-parked cars delayed the fire tenders from reaching the spot by one and a half hours.