On the evening of Sunday, March 24, evacuation of more than 50 patients to ‘safer blocks’ was prompted by a fire that broke out in the basement of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Trauma Centre.
According to fire department officials, no casualties were reported and several patients from the ground floor to the sixth floor had to be evacuated and taken to other blocks of the building.
The fire, which police suspect may have started due to a short-circuit, triggered panic among visitors, patients and their attendants.
#VISUALS Delhi: Fire breaks out at an operation theatre in AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) Trauma Center, fire tenders present; more details awaited. pic.twitter.com/PGGmZduX5p
— ANI (@ANI) March 24, 2019
A press statement was issued by the AIIMS administration, claiming that an enquiry has been initiated to ascertain the cause of the fire, and to suggest measures for improvement in their mechanism for fire fighting.
What had happened?
According to chief fire officer Atul Garg, after the blaze engulfed AIIMS, the fire control room received a call. Within a few minutes, four fire tenders rushed to the spot.
“As the fire had originated from one of the stores adjacent to the operation theatre in the basement and heavy smoke was coming out, 20 more fire tenders — along with 40-50 firefighters — were rushed to the hospital to contain the blaze. The fire was controlled by 8 pm. However, the cooling operation continued till late in the night,” said Garg.
With the smoke rapidly spreading to the upper floors, the patients were evacuated, the lift operations were disabled and the electricity supply was cut. As many as 50 patients, most of who were accommodated in the emergency department, were moved to safety.
#UPDATE Fire Dept: A fire broke out at AIIMS Trauma Centre at around 6pm. 24 fire tenders responded. Fire started from the basement of building where OT is located. Patients on the ground & first floor were evacuated. Oxygen leakage from a pipe being fixed. Fire under control. https://t.co/1815wcMVnE
— ANI (@ANI) March 24, 2019
Patients from four floors (third, fourth, fifth and sixth), housing private wards had to be moved to other departments.
A doctor at the hospital said that as private wards generally do not house critical patients, almost all the patients who have been moved are non-critical. The fire, he said, probably caught in the OT store.
The doctor further said that the lifts being disabled, stairs were used to move patients. However, they were prepared to evacuate the building, they did not have to as the situation did not arise.
The fire originated in the operation theatre complex’s storeroom in the basement, the preliminary enquiry revealed. “The presence of beds and other inflammable items in the store caused heavy smoke. A search operation was conducted after the fire was doused. Luckily, nobody was hurt in the fire,” said Deputy commissioner of police (southwest), Devender Arya.
Fire at AIIMS: patients have been evacuated from the floor where fire was reported @the_hindu pic.twitter.com/rm2NuysMr7
— Saurabh Trivedi (@saurabh3vedi) March 24, 2019
Other fires in Delhi
Several massive fires have broken out in Delhi in 2019 itself. A huge fire broke out at a slum in Paschim Puri area in Delhi on February 13, burning at least 250 huts. The fire possibly broke out due to a short circuit, but the actual reason is yet to be ascertained.
Soon after this, a paper card factory, Archies, in Naraina Industrial Area, Phase I in Delhi caught a medium category fire. The flames spread rapidly to the top floor. In order to douse the fire, around 29 fire tenders were rushed to the spot.
At least 17 were killed and several others were left injured after a massive fire broke out at a hotel in Delhi’s Karol Bagh area on the wee hours of February 12. The fire broke out at Hotel Arpit Palace at around 4:35 am and according to reports, a woman and a child, among those dead, were killed while trying to jump from a window.
It is harrowing to see that patients in a hospital, who are supposed to be kept safe by authorities, are being exposed to such danger. It is important that further measures are taken for improvement in fire fighting mechanism in all hospitals and other buildings.
Also Read: Delhi: Massive Hotel Fire Kills At Least 17 Including A Child; Leaves Many Injured
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