Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Last Updated: 20 May 15:27 PM IST
20 November 2012
statesman news service
KOLKATA, 20 NOV: A five-year-old boy was burned to death in a fire that broke out this afternoon in a slum adjacent to the Santoshpur railway station in South 24-Parganas. The fire damaged more than 300 shanties, which left around 2,000 people homeless.
Seven fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the flames and firefighters took more than five hours to extinguish the flames.
Police said the fire broke out around 12.45 p.m. Local people alleged that Rafique, a local hooch and ganja seller, set his shanty on fire. "He did it purposely after consulting local political leader Nitai Halder. Their purpose is to give places to new people in the slum in exchange for money. They took money from us before allowing us to build my shanty here," said Mr Dinanath Das, whose shanty was gutted in the fire.
The fire spread fast to adjacent shanties as they were constructed with flammable materials and there was almost no space between shanties.
Residents of the slum started the work of dousing the flames. Firefighters reached the spot about half an hour the fire broke out. Some of the firefighters started extinguishing the flames while the rest risked their lives to evacuate the shanties. The fire spread so fast that residents failed to save their valuables.
A senior officer of the state fire and emergency services department found Dulal, a five-year-old boy, lying unconscious in a shanty. He risked his life and brought the child out.
Dulal was declared dead when taken to a local hospital. Police have initiated an investigation but are yet to arrest any one.
Train services in Ballygunge-Budge Budge section of Eastern Railway's Sealdah (South) division were affected from 1:20 p.m. today, as hundreds of residents of the slum gathered on railway track between Brace Bridge and Santoshpur stations.
Firefighters found it difficult to reach the spot, as the road leading to the slum was narrow. They had to lay hosepipes across the railway track. Train services returned to normal at 8.25 p.m.
Trinamul Congress MLAs from Metiabruz and Mahestala visited the spot and promised to help the homeless people.
The district administration sent tarpaulins and food for the affected people. A senior official of the district administration said the necessary steps would be taken to provide temporary shelter to the affected people.
In the evening, slum residents were found searching for valuables left undamaged in the debris.