Cylinder blast in city bakery kills 56-yr-old firefighter
By Jayanthi Pawar & Samuel Merigala | Express News Service | Published: 17th July 2017 08:01 AM |
CHENNAI: In just three days, Egaraj’s deputation to Chennai would have ended and he would have returned to his native in Virudhunagar. But what should have been a minor fire at a small bakery, ended up as a tragedy that claimed his life on Sunday.
Egaraj, a fireman with over 26 years of service, died in an LPG cylinder blast that happened when the bakery, that was already on fire, was opened to douse the flames. The blast threw a ‘huge fireball’ on firefighters, police and public, injuring 47 people.
About 37 of those injured were local residents of Kaviarasu Kannadasan Nagar of Kodungaiyur, who were either helping the firemen or taking selfies. Five policemen, three firemen, and two home guards were also injured. Sixteen of them are reported to be in critical state with more than 40 per cent burn injuries.
“Most of the public were either trying to take selfies or videos of the incident. Police were chasing them away, but they refused to cooperate,” said Bhuvaneshwar, one of the victims. He recounted how a ‘huge ball of fire’ came out of the shop when it was opened.
Around 200 people had assembled in front of the shop. “There was a huge sound and it felt like some hard object hitting us. I was struck in the crowd and could not move. Minutes later, I managed to pull myself out and reach a hospital,” he said. According to eyewitnesses, the firemen were under pressure from public to open the bakery’s door to prevent fire from spreading to nearby shops.
“When oxygen rushes in during gas leaks, the sudden combustion causes a fireball explosion in the closed space,” said Sheik Udhuman, a colleague of Egaraj who was also on deputation at the Korukkupet station. “Egaraj only had 23 per cent burns, but succumbed to head injuries caused in the explosion,” said a senior doctor at the Kilpauk Medical College Hospital.
Besides the improper handling of the situation, the shop is also said to have lacked any ventilation and this resulted in a building up of pressure inside. “The pressure had mainly build up since the shop lacked ventilation and as the shutter was opened, it exploded. The cylinder was weighing 19.2 kg,” said Baskar Babu, proprietor of Sakthi HP gas agency.
The cylinder was reduced to pieces and was lying on the shop’s floor. “I was returning home on my two-wheeler. I saw people gathered near the bakery, as I was crossing the shop, a hard object hit my face only then I realised it was a piece of a cylinder,” said an injured, wishing not to reveal his name.
Dos and don’ts
Do not enter a house or any building that has been affected by fire until professionals give clearance to do so
Move to a safe distance if the building is on fire. For, cahnces are it could eventually collapse
If any part of your body or clothing is on fire follow the standard procedure: stop, drop, roll and cover your face
Be sensible, do not look for selfie opportunities
Do not crowd the building entrance hindering fire personnel from carrying out their duty