Srinagar, Apr 23: Around 10:20 Pm on Friday, Waseem Ahmad was putting his kids to sleep in Srinagar’s Namchabal area, when he heard people screaming outside. As Waseem went outside, he saw the house of his neighbour Mohammad Rafiq Mir up in flames.
With the huge flames approaching his own house, Waseem sprinted back to get his kids downstairs, “After rescuing my daughter and son, I went inside again to grab some clothes but the fire was all over the first floor, making it impossible to even stand on the stairs,” said Waseem, a driver by profession.
Seven houses were destroyed in the overnight blaze, five among them reduced to rubble, leaving ten families homeless.
Mohammad Rafiq Mir, from whose house the fire started, said that he was downstairs with his family when someone shouted about the fire. As Mir came out, he saw huge flames coming out from the attic of his home.
“There was no gas cylinder, no electricity connection, nothing flammable. I can’t comprehend what ignited the flames,” said a sobbing Mir.
The inferno was finally extinguished successfully around 2:30 am on Saturday but the houses of Mohammad Ashraf Mir, Mohammad Shafi Mir, Owais Ahmad Mir and Mohammad Rafiq Mir, Arslan Ahmad Kar and Parveena, Tauseef Ahmad Kumar, Waseem Ahmad and Rameez Ahmad were completely destroyed.
The fire also partially damaged the houses of Jalal ud Din Dar and Mohammad Amin Dar.
The locals said that when the first fire brigade arrived, the pipe they used was leaking heavily at three spots, decreasing the output pressure of the water and failing to douse the flames in time.
“It was when firefighters from other branches came, they were able to control the blaze,” said Riyaz Ahmed, a local.
Eyewitnesses said that despite being just a kilometre away, firefighters took over thirty minutes to reach the spot.
“When we made the emergency call, they (firefighters) asked us to get a police verification first, ” said a local, a claim, disputed by the Leading Fireman of Badabem Brarinambal Fire station, who refused to identify himself by name.
As per the Leading Fireman, they reached the spot around 11:20 PM after receiving the first call at 11:10. "However, after reaching the spot, we couldn’t initiate the operation as the approach road through the nearby Cluster University was locked and the gatekeeper took a long time to open it which delayed the operation by 8-10 mins,” the Fireman said.