Around 30 two-wheelers were gutted in a fire that broke out at the 11-storeyed Paigah Plaza in Adarshnagar, near Basheerbagh, in the heart of the city on Wednesday.
The fire, that broke out around 1.45 pm, also engulfed a power transformer and spread to a nearby restaurant. It could have snowballed into a major fire if not local people and others acted in time.
With thick smoke and flames emanating from the building, people present over there shifted a number of two-wheelers from the parking area and the workers at the hotel quickly removed two gas cylinders from the kitchen.
There was widespread panic as the 400-odd employees working in offices located in the building were being immediately evacuated, fearing spreading of fire to a diesel power generator adjacent to the transformer. “Initial reports suggest that it was a transformer blast. We are investigating into it,” said Sudhakar, district fire officer (central zone), adding, “there were around 100 bikes, of which 29 were totally gutted.”
The owner of one of the gutted bikes, Saidulu, a resident of Bholakpur, has been working in the accounts section of one of the offices on the 10th floor. He was more worried about claiming insurance for his one-year old Splendor Plus, for which he is to pay EMIs for two more years. “The bike is in my father’s name, M Venkataiah. I have paid EMIs for one year and have to pay for two more years. How can I claim insurance?” he asked.
Acting as Good Samaritans, a few of them were seen shifting the bikes away to safer places.
“We were inside and, on hearing a big sound, came out and saw bikes on fire. We started removing the bikes from the parking place. Had all the bikes caught fire, the flames would have engulfed the building too,” said Taskeen Ahmed, who works in an office on the 5th floor.
Md Hashim, who works in an office in the building, said, “When the power went off at 1.40 pm, we heard a blast-like sound from near the generator. We thought that the generator had burst but we saw the transformer on fire.”
According to some, breakdown of the particular transformer was quite frequent.
While the fire then was spreading into the adjacent Sai Prasanth Mess, the workers quickly removed the gas cylinders in the kitchen and averted a major mishap. Balaji, who works at the eatery, said, “There were only a couple of customers when the fire spread to the wash area next to the kitchen. Though we became nervous, we showed presence of mind and immediately removed two LPG cylinders that we had.” Their timely act ensured that there was no major damage to the mess.