AHMEDABAD: At least 27 students had a close shave when a major fire erupted in the building housing their coaching class in the Jivraj Park area of the city on Wednesday morning. The students were on the first floor of Sahajanand Building, at Astha Coaching Institute, when a fire erupted in a mattress shop on the ground floor, where there was a large stock of highly flammable materials like foam sheets and cotton bales. The smoke from the fire was visible from at least one kilometer away and Ahmedabad Fire and Emergency Services (AFES) personnel were soon at the spot. TimesView The Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Regulations have been in force since 2016, but precious little has been done to enforce these regulations in Gujarat’s cities. It is the duty of the state to establish a system of fire audits which makes sure the law is complied with. If the state continues to sleep on compliance, precious lives will be lost to fires. On getting there, they found that at least 27 students were stuck on the first floor, trapped by heavy smoke.
AFES personnel first evacuated them and then began dousing the blaze. Officials said it took around two or three hours to put out the fire, 12 fire trucks and hundreds of AFES personnel were deployed. A fire services official said the cause of the fire is yet unknown, because many things that could have ignited the fire — bidis, an earthen-lamp and incense sticks — were found at the shop. A short circuit can also not be ruled out, said the official. A seven-year-old boy and a forty-year-old woman, a tutor, had died when a major fire broke out at a tuition class in the Vesu area of Surat in November 2018. “The major issue is that the building, where an educational institute was operating, did not have fire safety equipment. This contravenes the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court, which mandates that every institute have fire safety equipment. Even after the Surat incident, neither the state government nor the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has learned any lessons,” a fire official said.