CHENNAI: A 24-year-old man, a native of Telangana who recently landed in Chennai from Germany, was charred to death after his third floor serviced apartment room at Saidapet here caught fire early Sunday morning.
The victim was identified as S Bharathwaj, who was living with his parents in Germany, and the purpose of his visit to Chennai is not clear yet.
Fire and rescue services personnel said that smoke could be seen from the Saidapet bridge which is two kilometres away from the Mount Kailash apartments, where Bharathwaj was staying.
Workers in the serviced apartment claim that the victim’s neighbours in the complex alerted them of a “smoke smell” at 5.45 am. “We thought it was a small fire but only when we broke open the door, we realised everything was burnt and the fire began to spread,” said S Vijay, a worker at the service apartment.
Fire service personnel who reached the spot around 6 am, battled the flames for more than an hour. Two fire tenders were pressed into service. “When the hotel workers tried to rescue the youth soon after smoke emerged, the fire spread across other rooms as well and luckily the five families evacuated instantly and thus escaped,” said a fire and rescue personnel.
The cause of fire is not known. After initial investigation, police have ruled out electrical fluctuations. “If the reason was electrical fluctuation, the whole apartment should have caught fire,” a senior police officer said.
However, K Veeramma, who operates a public toilet almost adjacent to the apartment told Express that she saw sparks from the air-conditioner around 4 am when she finished cleaning the toilet. Workers in the apartment, however, feel Bharadwaj’s smoking habit could have started the fire. They had told police that the receptionist had told Bharathwaj multiple times not to smoke in the room after finding cigarette butts.
Bharathwaj was living with his parents in Germany as his father was said to be employed there. On contacting his parents who are currently in Germany, police claimed that he had told his parents he was in a friend’s place in Germany itself.