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Posted at: Jan 14, 2018, 2:14 AM; last updated: Jan 14, 2018, 2:16 AM (IST)

Fire at girls’ hostel in PU, no casualty

Room No. 34 gutted, doors of neighbouring rooms burnt | 3 fire tenders bring blaze under control in 90 minutes
Fire at girls’ hostel in PU, no casualty
Firefighters in action at the mishap site. Tribune photo

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13

A fire broke out at a room on the second floor of the seven-storey girls’ hostel number 3 at Panjab University here this afternoon.

While there was no casualty as its two occupants were out, the inferno left the room gutted. It took three fire tenders an hour and a half to bring the blaze under control. The cause of fire could not be ascertained yet.

Rhea Dutta, a student of MA-II of the English department, and Ugayi, a student of an undergraduate course, reside in the room, which is the last on the second floor of the hostel building. Since it was lunch time, Rhea, who hails from Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh), was in the park of the hostel when the incident took place. Ugayi too was away.

It is learnt that around 2.30 pm, some students, including Rhea, noticed smoke coming out of the room. Soon, she realised that it was her room and rushed to the second floor of the hostel. “Flames had engulfed my bed. I threw a bucket of water on the flames, but it was a raging fire. My friends forced me to stay away and we came down. The hostel staff had also reached there,” said Rhea.

By that time, the hostel warden was informed. Hostellers informed the police and the fire control room. The incident triggered panic in the area and girls in other rooms too came out and rushed downstairs.

After half an hour or so, three fire tenders reached the hostel and the firefighting operation began. Firemen targeted the fire from the rear side of the hostel. The fire was brought under control within an hour and a half.

Rhea and Ugayi lost their books, clothes, a laptop, a phone, a Kindle, an iron and a tea kettle in the incident. Ugayi’s certificates lying in the room got damaged too. The doors of room numbers 35, 36 and 38 were partially burnt. Girls’ hostel No. 3 is one of the oldest hostels on the PU campus. It has seven floors. 

The PU authorities have got the room numbers 35, 36, 37 and 38 vacated for safety reasons and due to smoke. 

“The ceiling has been damaged. Arrangements for occupants of room number 34 and the neighbouring rooms have been made at the faculty house though the girls have preferred to stay with their friends,” said warden Dr Ravneet Kaur, an assistant professor in the zoology department, adding that she got a call about the fire at 2.45 pm, following which she informed DSW (Women) Neena Caplash and told students to call the fire brigade and the police. Caplash spoke to students as they were in a shock. Vice Chancellor Arun Kumar Grover and Registrar Col GS Chadha (retd) also visited the spot. The VCsaid, “The university is caring. Whatever the request for compensation would come, we will deal with it sympathetically. I have already assured the girl (occupant of Room No 34) of all possible help.”

Fire extinguishers of ‘little use’

“The hostel staff couldn’t effectively use the fire extinguishers,” said a student. However, Dean Students Welfare Prof Emanual Nahar reasoned, “It was already a raging fire when it was discovered. It was not easy to control it with fire extinguishers. We managed to save other rooms as the fire was spreading. It was lunch hour and the hostel was largely empty. One student was there on the first floor who was evacuated.”

No windows in girls’ hostels

Naveen Kumar, a fireman of the Sector 11 fire station, said three fire tenders were pressed into service. “Initially, we targeted fire from outside for about 35-40 minutes. Once it was controlled, we entered the hostel. It was all smoky inside as there was hardly any window. It compounded the problem. We had to break the glass wall to let the smoke out,” he said. The girls’ hostels at the PU have fixed glasses but no windows. “For security purposes, there are no windows in girls’ hostels. We have fixed glasses,” said warden Dr Ravneet Kaur. 


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