Hotel inferno: Civilians brave raging fire to save 12

Deccan Chronicle.  | Syed Omar Farooq

Nation, Crime

Santosh Chary, a goldsmith and one of the brave nine heroic civilians, entered the fire spot first after seeing smoke engulf the building

Police and officials at the Gandhi hospital as they hand over bodies of fire victims to their kin in Secunderabad. (DC)

HYDERABAD: At least 12 people, who were trapped in the four-storey Ruby Pride Luxury Hotel in Secunderabad, were rescued by nine heroic civilians and two police personnel even though firefighters had not yet entered the building to put out the raging fire that claimed eight lives, among them a woman.

Santosh Chary, a goldsmith and one of the brave nine heroic civilians, entered the fire spot first after seeing smoke engulf the building and seeing one hotel guest attempting to leap out of the window on the second storey.

Santosh, a resident of Kummarguda, fearlessly passed the road divider and went on, unfazed by the dense smoke, until he observed a hotel guest attempting to jump from a second-floor window. Then he informed Subash Chary and Amar Reddy, who together with Vera Vardhan, Sameer, Santosh, Shiva Yadav, K. Santosh, and Surya Kiran first informed the police and together were able to set up a ladder.

“At around 9.35 pm, I was going home from the Clock Tower when I noticed both sides of the road were full of smoke and the other side was invisible. I initially thought there had been a blast at Secunderabad railway station,” said Santosh Chary.

There is just one entrance and no exit from the hotel, therefore Amar Reddy and the other brave hearts divided themselves into two squads. One of their teams entered the building by smashing a shed and a sheet door on the ground level of the backside building, while the other squad lowered a ladder from the second floor of the neighbouring Yatri Inn into the hotel's window and leaped inside.

“The hotel occupants were choking and screaming for help, and the dense smoke made it impossible to see anything. I grabbed one of the occupant’s phones, managed to unlock the flash light, and then managed to grab nine of the hotel occupants, carrying them one by one to Yatri Inn and then to the ambulances that had already arrived,” said Shiva Yadav, a resident of Kummarguda.

More than 44 electric vehicles were parked in the basement of Gemo Motors when the fire and hazardous smoke from the explosion of the lithium EV batteries extended to the first, second, third, and fourth floors due to a short circuit. According to a police spokesman, most of the occupants who inhaled the toxic smoke died from asphyxia.

“I heard the fire fighters warn that the building would burst because there may be more EV vehicles, but they did not dare to approach the building because the entrance was full of smoke," said another brave heart. During the rescue operation, three hotel occupants were given CPR on the floor of the Yatri Inn building but they were already dead from burns and suffocation.

“I overheard a woman screaming and a young child sobbing. I saw a man jumping together with a child from the first and second floors of the building while the mother was screaming for help to save her child,” recalled Sameer, who along with others had rescued three hotel occupants.

Later, police officers from the Market police station, K. Santosh and A. Shravan Kumar, joined the good Samaritans risking their lives. While others signalled for help from the windows with their mobile flash lights, station fire officer Mohan Rao from the front side of the building mounted the sky lifter and saved them.

It took more than two hours for firefighters and civilian rescuers to free the 25 occupants from the hotel.