Surat: It was just another day for Ketan Jorawadia, who lives in a society in Sarthana area in Gujarat's Surat. He was walking by the road late Friday afternoon, when noticed a commotion and billows of smoke emitting from a building.
“I was passing this area. My society is nearby. Smoke was billowing out from the lower floors,” recalls Jorawadia.
“At first, I just stood, wondering what to do.” At that point, a young girl fell to the ground trying trying to escape the blaze. That proved to be the triggering point for him.
“I grabbed a ladder and rescued eight to ten children – most of them aged between 13 to 16 years – from the backside. Then I came to the other side of the building and climbed up the pipe to reach the third floor. Then, I saved the young boys hanging from there,” says Jorawadia.
“Then I came down, saw a girl had fallen. She'd bled a lot. I was sad to see that. Then I went back up again and saved two-three more children. I saved as many as possible, couldn't save the rest,” he said.
Witnesses claim several people stopped in the area to click photos and shoot videos but only Jorawadia risked his life and entered the building to save the students.
A video clip showing Jorawadia trying to help students went viral on social media.
Several celebrities and leaders hailed his heroic act on Twitter.
"Braveheart Ketan Jorawadia climbed up to 2nd floor & saved life of 2 students yesterday in Takshshila complex #SuratFireTragedy Putting his own life at risk in sure death zone & going all out to save lives of fellow citizen is an extraordinary bravery Salute & Respect Ketan," tweeted Major Surendra Poonia.
Ketan Jorawadia climbed up to 2nd floor & saved life of 2 students yesterday in Takshshila complex #SuratFireTragedy
Putting his own life at risk in sure death zone & going all out to save lives of fellow citizen is an extraordinary bravery
Salute & Respect Ketan pic.twitter.com/9t6vTaGFTn
— Major Surendra Poonia (@MajorPoonia) May 25, 2019
"My heartfelt condolences to children who lost their lives in the tragic incident in Surat yesterday. Very proud of Ketan Jorawadia, who showed exemplary courage and saved atleast 2 children from falling in the fire," said former cricketer VVS Laxman.
My heartfelt condolences to children who lost their lives in the tragic incident in Surat yesterday. Very proud of Ketan Jorawadia, who showed exemplary courage and saved atleast 2 children from falling in the fire. pic.twitter.com/dNW1qjb75o
— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) May 25, 2019
State Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia tweeted:
Not all heroes wear capes.
Some come in form of common-men who do not worry about their own lives just to be able to help others.
— Arjun Modhwadia (@arjunmodhwadia) May 25, 2019
The death toll in Takshshila Arcade fire in Sarthana in Gujarat's Surat touched 22 after two more teenage students died on Saturday evening.
A massive fire broke out on Friday afternoon (May 24) in commercial building Takshshila Arcade. Initial investigations suggest that the blaze was triggered by a short circuit in the building. Several students were attending classes at an illegally run coaching institute at the time, which ran Maths and Fashion Designing classes for 11th and 12th standard students. The fire began downstairs due and soon spread up. The coaching centre was run on the top floor of the building and a wooden staircase served as the only entry and exit route. The blaze soon engulfed the wooden staircase, blocking the escape points. The building also had a tyre shop, which further fuelled the blaze.
Horrific videos show children trying to jump off the fourth floor in an attempt to escape the fire, some of whom fell to their deaths. Many others, trapped in the building, died due to burn injuries and asphyxiation. Most of those who died were in the age group of 14 to 17 years. Sixteen other injured students have been admitted to the hospital and are under observation. Majority of students were charred to death in the fire while three died after jumping off from the third and fourth floor of the building to escape the fire, said police.