At 12.30 pm, on Wednesday afternoon, when 37-year-old Pawandeep Kaur took the lift in her society – Saya Zenith in Indirapuram – to reach to her flat on the 17th floor, she was joined by a panicky guard. He informed her that a fire had broken out in a flat (1801) above her floor in the same tower and the situation seemed alarming.
Her first thought was to ensure that her two sons – aged 12 and two and a half years – and her cousin who were at home at that time were safe. “When I reached home, I saw that flames were coming out of the main door and bedroom of flat no. 1801. It looked like their air conditioner had caught fire,” said Kaur.
“My house is not directly below this flat but I could see that the flames had already started spreading to the air conditioners installed in the lower flats. Had that happened, it would have been disastrous. I immediately took out the pipe from my washing machine and attached it to a tap, and started spraying water to douse the flames. It wasn’t a lot but it was still something. I kept on doing this for 15 minutes,” Kaur added.
Following her, the residents of flats on the lower floors also started throwing water on the flames, Kaur said. Her sheer presence of mind contributed a lot to the fact that the fire didn’t spread to the flats below.
“I also asked my elder son to knock the door of my next-door neighbour and alert them about the fire. They also started spraying water but since the flames were directly reaching till their house, they left the house and went downstairs,” added Kaur.
Though the fire was doused after a while, like most other residents, Kaur was angered by the poor maintenance of her society. “As most of the smoke detectors weren’t working, the alarm wasn't heard by anyone. People came to realize about the fire only after two guards informed them that a fire had broken out in flat no. 1801. Why does the administration work so casually in such crucial issues?” she lamented.
Another Unsung Hero
Every time a resident approached Sonu, who works as housekeeping lead in the society, for any work he replied “ho jayega, chinta na karo (It would be done, don’t worry!),” with a wide smile on his face.
The moment news of the fire spread within the society, he was among the few persons to reach the spot. In fact, the residents say he and his team, did a courageous job, risking their lives and doused the flames with whatever was available – water, fire hydrants, and extinguishers - at that moment.
“We took the stairs and immediately reached the 18th floor. Everyone was thinking about how the fire can be doused. But since the housekeeping staff takes care of cleaning the floors, we are well aware of sources from where we can get water. I was just doing my job,” said Sonu.
Though he doesn’t have formal training in handling a fire incident, his quick thinking and courage certainly helped avert a bigger tragedy.
Thankfully, when everything else seemed to be not working, one thing that didn’t let down the residents of the condominium is the courage of such bravehearts!