At around 11 pm on Sunday night, 40-year-old Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh from Barapathar locality in Srinagar’s Haftchinar area came out of his shabby two-storey plywood hutment after having dinner for a usual stroll. Little did he know that he would never be able to see his wife and their six-year-old son alive again.
Sheikh’s wife, forty-year old Ajmeera and their minor son Mohammad Abbas were charred to death after an alleged short-circuit triggered a massive blaze late night on Sunday engulfing Sheikh’s house besides five other residential structures nearby.
While two houses suffered partial damage, four including Sheikh’s were completely reduced to ashes.
Eyewitnesses told Greater Kashmir that the short circuit took place at around 11:00 pm last night in the electric wire near the ground floor of Sheikh’s house which also accommodates his shop on the ground floor igniting flames, which engulfed the whole structure within no time.
Seeing the massive flames all over his house, Sheikh rushed upstairs to rescue his family, but the powerful flames overwhelmed Sheikh rendering him too helpless to reach out to his family.
“The moment I opened the door, a massive flame burst out from inside and burned my face. I tried hard to save them but failed,” a sobbing Sheikh told Greater Kashmir on Monday.
Later the locals managed to evacuate the mother-son duo to SMHS Hospital Srinagar, but doctors there reportedly declared them brought dead.
Abdul Hamid Sheikh, another victim in the fire incident who works as a daily wager in Srinagar Municipal Corporation and sells barbecues at night to sustain the needs of his family, said that last night he heard a disturbing sound of a short circuit and opened his window to know what it was about.
“I opened the window and saw a flame rising from the wire and in no time it engulfed Ghulam Mohammad’s house. I saw the flames moving to my own house and rushed to take out my family,” Hamid recalled.
Although Hamid was able to save his family comprising his wife, three daughters and son, their house and belongings were reduced to ashes.
“Everything got destroyed by the fire. Even the pheran (the woolen robe worn by Kashmiris during winters) I am wearing is not mine, someone came and put it over me in the morning,” Hamid said.
He said the valuable items including gold he had bought for his daughter’s upcoming wedding were destroyed in the fire.
Besides, the blaze destroyed a few sewing machines and tailored garments by another of his daughters, he added.
The residents of the locality further alleged delay in the arrival of the fire tenders saying it took them around 30 minutes to reach the spot.
“Had they come a little early, a lot of damage could have been averted,” a local said.
The locality comprising of families of lower strata demanded the administration to compensate the losses and to sponsor the construction of their houses.
Pertinently, the houses of Abdul Hamid Sheikh, Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh, Tariq Ahmad Sheikh and Bashir Ahmad Sheikh were completely destroyed, while the those of Ghulam Nabi Sheikh and Mehraj-ud-din suffered partial damage.