The devastating fire incident that claimed 23 young lives in Surat last Friday is a shocking reminder of the terrible state of fire safety and disaster mitigation in our buildings. On Friday the 24th of May, around 3.30pm fire broke out in a commercial building in Surat called Takshashila Arcade. The building was home to a coaching center and was occupied mostly by students aged 14 and 17 during the fire.
The fire broke out due to an electrical short circuit and caught near the staircase, preventing students from running down. Disturbing videos circulated on social media captured students jumping out of windows from the top floor, to escape the blaze.
The building did not a functioning fire escape, and the materials used for the construction of the roof made the fire spread quickly. The painful images reminded me of the Carlton Towers fire accident that happened in Bangalore in 2010. There, too helpless victims tried to jump out of windows to survive.
My heart goes out to the helpless victims and their bereaving families. So many young souls lost in an accident that could have been easily averted.
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