Last updated: 03:38 PM ET, Sat June 20 2015

Hotel Fire in Northern India Kills 10, Safety Issues May Have Worsened Situation

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | June 20, 2015

Hotel Fire in Northern India Kills 10, Safety Issues May Have Worsened Situation

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Flames engulfed the Hotel Goyal Residency, located at the center of the Pratapgarh district in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, killing 9 guests and 1 staff member, and injuring more than a dozen early Friday morning, The Indian Express reported.

The Indian Express said the police and fire department were called around 4:50 a.m., and they rushed to the four-story lodging, which is in the district’s heart at the Babaganj locality.

“The fire broke out in the basement and soon engulfed the restaurant on the ground floor. Soon, toxic fumes engulfed the entire hotel, including the guest rooms on the top two floors. Most of the guests were sleeping, and responded late,” Circle Officer (City) MP Salonia told The Indian Express. He said the fire’s cause appeared to be a short circuit.

Around two-dozen staff and guests were present, and firemen were forced to break glass panels at the front of the hotel to rescue those who were trapped.

Durgesh Nandan Singh, a security guard for an under-construction bank office, near the hotel, was among the first on the scene. “I saw at least two person lying injured on road after they jumped off from second floor,” Singh told The Indian Express. He added that some guests managed to climb down some bamboo poles that he brought over from the construction site.

Fire Station Officer (City) AA Hussain told The Indian Express of ongoing safety issues that safety inspectors had with the accommodations leading up to the fire: “The hotel didn’t have a regular (No Objection Certificate [NOC]). When they started operations, they were granted a provisional NOC, which was cancelled a year later after hotel failed on basic parameters. Despite reminders, they did not pay heed.”

Hussain told the Indian Express the last inspection of the Hotel Goyal Residency occurred a few months ago, and the owner had assured inspectors that changes would be made.

But when catastrophe struck, the fact that management ignored pleas to improve safety may have cost lives. The fire personnel found only a few fire extinguishers in the hotel, a number that they deemed not enough. “We cannot comment on whether (the extinguishers) were effective. Also, the hotel had only one entry and exit point and the entire structure was packed with glass paneling in the front. There was no space for the smoke to escape. Most of the deaths were due to asphyxiation,” said Hussain.

Hotel owner Sunil Goyal has been detained for questioning, and Additional Superintendent of Police (East), Akhileshwar Pandey said, “(A First Information Report) for culpable homicide not amounting to murder has been registered against the hotel management. Hotel manager, Lokesh Pant, allegedly fled soon after fire broke out early in the morning.” The superintendent added that the technical reasons for the blaze have yet to be investigated.

The identified deceased are all Indian citizens, one of whom was a manager with the Indira Gandhi Eye Institute and Research Centre, Lucknow.

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