In a heroic gesture, a 33-year-old housewife, who died of asphyxiation after a fire broke out at a condominium in Gurugram late on Sunday night, saved the lives of her neighbours before she finally succumbed to the heavy smoke.
The fire broke out after a short circuit in the electrical shaft at the ground floor of a tower at a condominium in Sector 69 around 2 am and spread up to the ninth floor, clouding corridors with heavy smoke, fire department officials said.
Swati Garg, her husband, Girish Garg, their four-year-old daughter Anjali and Swati’s mother Vaishali Tikekar stepped out of their fifth-floor apartment after the blaze.
'I took my daughter Anjali and ran upstairs. My wife and mother-in-law were behind me. The corridors on the eighth floor were filled with heavy smoke and I took refuge in one of the vacant apartments with my daughter. Meanwhile, Swati was with her mother and I thought she had taken refuge in one of the other apartments’, said Girish.
He later found out that Swati was going upstairs towards the terrace. 'I saw her proceeding upstairs towards the terrace in the hope of finding some fresh air. Her mother and she decided to split and proceed,' he recollects.
Some residents said that she knocked at the doors of other people living in the flats on fifth, sixth and seventh floors, and alerted them. Some neighbours recalled she tried to open the terrace doors in the hope of providing ventilation while others said she was left behind in the commotion.
The SHO at Badhsahpur police station, Vipin Rawat, said that the residents from fifth, sixth and seventh floor evacuated their flats and rushed to two vacant apartments on the eighth floor.
'The victim, however, tried to save the residents and sounded an alert for those who were asleep and knocked at their doors. She went up to open the terrace gate to allow the smoke to pass through so people could get some fresh air,' Rawat said.
The fire department officials said they had evacuated everyone from the building by 3.45 am. It took them 25 minutes to douse the blaze. Girish, his daughter and mother-in-law were evacuated at around 3.30 am from the eighth floor.
Rescuers found Swati lying unconscious near the terrace door almost an hour after and she died before reaching the hospital, according to police. Both doors to the terrace were locked and Swati eventually died of 'asphyxia', the post-mortem report revealed.