AHMEDABAD: The fire that broke out in their Anandnagar apartment killed assistant vice-president (Response), The Times Group, Achal Shah, 52, and his wife Pramila, 50. The couple is survived by two teenage daughters. Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services (AFES) had received a call about the fire on the sixth floor of B Block of Ishaan III Towers around 2.40 am on Saturday. When firefighters entered Shah’s 3BHK apartment, it was full of smoke. They found Shah lying unconscious in the dining room. The others, two daughters — Ishita, 15, and Aarohi, 13, and Shah’s mother Snehlata, who is in her eighties — were rescued from other two bedrooms.
Both Shah and his wife were declared ‘brought dead’ after they were rushed to a nearby private hospital. Shah’s daughters and his mother are under critical care. Fire only in storeroom, but smoke spread Sajid Baloch, the inspector of the Anandnagar police told TOI: “The cause of death is likely to be asphyxia.” Doctors at VS Hospital, where the post mortem was conducted, confirmed presence of carbon in the bodies.
Praveen Sharma, Shah’s brother-in-law, remembered him as a kind-hearted family man who achieved success on personal and professional fronts. Hospital authorities said that Aarohi — who is also undergoing treatment for trauma — remembered a fire-drill instruction given at school and ran inside the bathroom and stood under the shower. Her sister Ishita and grandmother Snehlata suffered cerebral hypoxia, a condition where oxygen supply is reduced to the brain. They are both are battling for life. “The fire was not major. It began in the apartment’s storeroom adjoining the kitchen and charred electronic appliances and provisions,” said Mithun Mistry, divisional fire officer, AFES. Neighbours heard the ceramic tiles falling off due to intense heat which alerted them. Soon after they heard Aarohi’s cries for help and one of them Mafabhai Rabari gained access to Shah’s gallery from the adjoining house and broke-opened the door. He, however, sustained minor burn injuries.
“The fire was limited to the storeroom and the kitchen, charring both areas. The smoke spread across the house.” Mistry told TOI that it is possible that Shah came out of his bedroom to check what was happening, but fell unconscious in a few seconds when he inhaled noxious fumes, including carbon monoxide. There was no ventilation for the fumes to escape. The cause of fire is yet to be ascertained. Fire officials say that it could have been triggered either by a lamp lit inside the house on the occasion of Dev Diwali or shortcircuit. Only further probe and analysis by the Forensic Science Laboratory will accord clarity. Ishita is a top-seed badminton player in the state and is ranked fifth in singles. She was recently selected to represent Gujarat in the under-17 doubles at the sub-junior nationals to be held in Bengaluru from November 22 to December 2 and was supposed to leave for the tournament on Monday. Shah, the son of former Gujarat director general of police V T Shah, was also an avid sportsperson. He was HL Commerce College’s cricket captain. Sharma said Shah was the driving force behind his daughter’s accomplishments in sports. Shah’s association with The Times Group dates back to 1991. “He was humble, and caring towards his colleagues. We still can’t believe this loss,” said one of his colleagues.