The gutting of seven houses in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Tuesday exposed the unprepared of district administration to deal with such calamities.
Eyewitnesses said that soon after the fire started in a house at Dalipora the fire and emergency services were contacted at around 10: 45 in the morning.
“They took around half an hour to reach the spot, though the station is only few hundred meters away, said Faizan-ul Haq Nadvi,” an eyewitness and resident of Pulwama.
He said that the fire fighting tanker of fire and emergency department were struck in traffic jam for around 20 minutes though it had to cover a distance of around 100 meters to reach the spot.
“The time the tanker arrived on spot fire had already spread to neighbouring houses and engulfed seven of them,” he said, adding that fire fighting tankers from Rajpora and Kakapora stations arrived 15 minutes after the arrival of first one from Pulwama station.
The delayed arrival agitated many youth who had a scuffle with the fire fighters. Eye witnesses said some fire men were manhandled.
The residents were also agitated by malfunctioning fire fighting tankers of fire and emergency department Pulwama.
The residents said the time the fire fighters started dozing out the fire two of the spray pipes of fire fighting tanker were malfunctioning.
“Only one spray pipe was functioning properly,” they said. They also said that most of the fire fighters were without any protective gear due to which they were unable to climb on to first floors of the houses to doze out the flames.
Witnesses said that the youth of the area showed exemplary sprit and jumped onto the centre stage to doze the flames. The residents said that the youth used whatever resources they could find to extinguish the fire. Many youth used water sprayers and buckets to put off the fire and other were able to save some household items by bringing them out on time from the affected houses.
“Had they waited for fire fighters to reach the spot more houses would have been damaged,” said G.M Dar, a social activist from Pulwama.
“If there is a disaster management cell in the district what contributions has it made to prepare its men to deal with natural disasters,” he said, adding though youth did a commendable job but they were unorganized.
“One was running in one direction and other in other direction, had they been trained in volunteerism and disaster preparedness some houses could have been saved,” he said.
When assistant director fire and emergency department Pulwama, Raj Kumar was contacted, he said that they were ascertaining the cause of fire and assessing the magnitude of the damage done.
On the issue of manhandling fire fighters, he said that under such conditions some persons become emotional and behave abnormally.
However, he didn’t answer when he was asked as to why the fire fighters were without protective gears and how many fire fighting tankers they have in the district.
“These are secondary issues which is not worth to talk on phone,” he said.
Locals said that the seven houses that were damaged in the blaze belonged to Manzoor Ahmad Wani, Abdul Salam Bhat, Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, Abdul Rashid Bhat, Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat, Javid Ahmad Malik and Muzaffar Ahmad Parray, a paying guest whose all house hold items were burnt in flames including 50 thousand cash.