Four women were charred to death as a fire engulfed two floors of a four-storey commercial complex on the busy Avinashi Road here on Thursday. The building, Vigneswar CRESTA, is located at the Lakshmi Mills junction.
In the dramatic rescue operation that unfolded in front of hundreds of people, over 70 people trapped in the building and waving for help from the balconies were brought down after tireless efforts by firefighters.
However, it was too late for the four victims by the time firemen managed to reach inside the building. Three of the four were staff of a branch office of stock broking firm, Sharekhan, located on the third floor of the building. The victims are R Keerthana (22), receptionist, Sri Lakshmi (25), assistant manager, Vijayalakshmi (50), sweeper, and J Margaret (55), housekeeping staff.
The fire, suspected to have broken out in the third-floor office either due to a malfunctioning UPS or a short circuit, spread fast and engulfed half of the second and third floors in which offices of four firms function. Survivors were trapped for a long time as the heat and thick smoke made it impossible to use the only staircase in the building, which houses many offices where nearly 600 employees work.
“We noticed smoke spreading and suffocating everyone. All we could do was rush to the balcony,” said Lavanya, a travel firm staff, who was rescued from the third floor by firemen.