SOPORE: Four houses were razed in a fire that broke out at Ashpeer locality of Sopore in Baramulla district last Sunday.
An official said the incident affected four families and left 21 persons homeless, including a few school-going children.
The fire broke out in Ashpeer locality of northern township Sopore at around 7 pm Sunday. Two fire crews arrived at the spot to find two houses already engulfed in flames. The fire spread to two other buildings before the crews, with the locals’ help, doused the huge flames by around 9:15 pm.
All four structures, however, were gutted. The four families resident in the four houses were unharmed.
Police and a Fire Investigation Unit were at the scene on Sunday to determine the cause of the fire, which has mostly been determined to have been a short circuit.
The four families whose houses were gutted in the devastation were identified as Siraj-ul-din Peer, Mohammad Amin Peer, Zahoor Ahmed Peer and Imtiyaz Ahmed Peer.
“Most of us could not save anything as we ran for our lives,” said Imtiyaz Peer, whose house was completely gutted in the mishap.
“We have lost everything in the blaze and we don’t know how soon we will be able to lead our normal lives again,” said Mrs. Syed Masrat, another victim. “All the household goods were acquired after years of hard work by my husband, but now everything is lost.” Alleging neglect by the local administration, she said that none of the officials had bothered to visit the neighbourhood in a timely manner.
Zahoor Ahmed Peer, who suffers from paralysis, is also among the four affected families. He told Kashmir Reader, “I am already paralysed; this was what I have made from my earnings my whole life. Not only household items have gone, but I have lost all my wife’s jewellery. All are gone now, we are helpless.
“We have not received any kind of help from the administration, except for a visit from the Tehsildar, who had a glimpse of our broken world and then left. Every affected family comes here during the day and picks out things from the rubble and leaves in the night to the house of relatives living at different places in Baramulla district,” Zahoor Ahmad said.
Zahoor Ahmad used to be a security guard for the ex-minister of state for Hajj and Auqaf, Farooq Andrabi. He sustained a bullet injury while on his duty in March last year, leaving him with serious spinal damage and paralysing him for life. The tragic incident had already left his life broken, but this fire that reduced his only house to ashes has plunged his world into chaos.
Locals told Kashmir Reader that what started as a minor fire engulfed the entire area as fire tenders failed to reach on time. This, they alleged, proves the irresponsible attitude of the Fire Service department.
Meanwhile, the fire-affected families want the local administration to come forward and help them with compensation and other things so that they can rebuild their lives. “We want food and water and also help for rebuilding our homes,” was a common demand.
Officials in Fire Service department, Sopore, told this newspaper that the exact cause of the fire was not immediately known. They however added that this was most probably a case of electric short circuit.
Meanwhile, Additional District Commissioner Khursheed Ahmad Shah told Kashmir Reader that the department has made a list of the affected families and “relief will be provided very soon”. But when asked about any immediate help from the administration, he said that the relief efforts would work and immediate help might come from the Red Cross.