One person died and 16 houses were gutted in a devastating fire at Dalgate here on Monday morning here.
Police said fire started from a residential house around 10:30 am at Khalpora area of Dalgate and engulfed nearby structures in the congested area. Panic gripped the area as flames went high and smoke engulfed the locality. Amid chaos, the inhabitants rushed out of their houses and shifted to safer places. Several fire-tenders were pressed into service to douse the fire. Local youth also joined the firefighting operation.
"Due to intense flames, we could not save belongings of our affected neighbours," said a group of local youth, who were consoling the victim families. Some of the women fainted as they saw their houses up in flames. "We lost everything today" they cried.
A senior official said that 16 houses were gutted in this major fire while 12 houses suffered partial damages.
Police recovered a body while clearing debris of one of the gutted houses. The deceased was identified as Muhammad Ramzan (70) of Tral area of south Kashmir's Pulwama district.
"The body was severely burnt. He was staying with one of his relatives from past several days," said a police official.
"We reached the spot immediately after receiving information about the fire incident. We pressed scores of men and machinery to control the fire which engulfed several structures," Muhammad Akbar, Deputy Director, Fire and Emergency Services Kashmir told Greater Kashmir.
"Nobody informed us that someone was trapped inside one of the houses. Our priority is always to rescue people first if they are trapped into a fire engulfed structure. Nobody told us that anyone is trapped or missing. I think nobody was aware about it," Akbar said.
As authorities and locals started removing debris from the spot, body of the deceased created panic. Woman cried, children fainted while some locals with the help of police removed debris to find any trapped persons.
District Development Commissioner (DDC) Srinagar, Farooq Ahmad Lone visited the spot and met the victim families. He was accompanied by other various officials.
As the DDC reached the spot, the fire victims showed him the remains of their gutted houses. Senior citizens of the locality apprised the DDC about the plight of victim families and urged him to extend all possible help to affected families as they all live from hand to mouth.
"The incident is unfortunate. The district administration will take every possible measure to help the victim families," the DDC told them.
"Fire victims will be provided financial assistance of Rs 101000 under SDRF. Around 50 families have been affected in the unfortunate incident," the DDC told Greater Kashmir.
"We have immediately provided assistance of Rs 2000 to each affected family from the Red Cross. We are also providing one month free ration to these families," he added.
Families whose houses were gutted in the incident are Bilal Ahmad Sheikh, s/o late Abdul Ahad Sheikh, Showkat Ahmad Sheikh, s/o Late Abdul Khaliq, Showkat Ahmad Sheikh, s/o Late Ghulam Muhammad Sheikh, Dilawar Ahmad Sheikh, s/o Late Ghulam Rasool Sheikh, Shabir Ahmad Sheikh, s/o Late Muhammad Maqbool Sheikh, Habibulla Sheikh, s/o Late Ghulam Muhammad Sheikh, Abdul Aziz Sheikh, s/o Late Abdul Rahim Sheikh, Farooq Ahmad Darzi, s/o late Ghulam Muhammad Darzi, Ghulam Muhammad Sheikh, s/o Late Fatah Sheikh, Abdul Rashid Dar son of late Abdul Gani Dar, Bilal Ahmad Sheikh, s/o late Bashir Ahmad Sheikh, Javaid Ahmad Sheikh, s/o late Bashir Ahmad Sheikh, Javaid Ahmad Sheikh, s/o late Ghulam Muhammad Sheikh, Hilal Ahmad Malik, s/o late Ghulam Qadir Malik, Shakeel Ahmad Teli, s/o late Abdul Ahad Teli, Muhammad Yaqoob Khan, s/o late Ghulam Ahmad Khan, Farooq Ahmad Sheikh, s/o late Muhammad Ramzan Sheikh, Ghulam Muhammad Khosa, s/o late Ghulam Ahmad Khosa, Tahir Ahmad Sheikh, s/o Ghulam Ahmad Sheikh, Tariq Ahmad Sheikh son of late Abdul Gani Sheikh, Abdul Rashid Punjabi s/o Muhammad Ramzan Punjabi, Muhammad Shafi Sheikh s/o Farooq Ahmad Sheikh, Muhammad Yousuf Sheikh s/o Muhammad Akbar Sheikh and Muhammad Ashraf, s/o late Ghulam Muhammad Sheikh.