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Surat tragedy: Tyres used as chairs in coaching class made fire spread fast, says Gujarat Chief Secretary

Gujarat chief secretary JN Singh said the fire tenders failed to reach at the scene of the incident because they were stationed around 45 minutes away from the building.

Surat tragedy: Tyres used as chairs in coaching class made fire spread fast, says Gujarat Chief Secretary

Gujarat Chief Secretary JN Singh on Sunday said that the tyres were used as chairs in coaching class in Surat where a major broke out on Friday, claiming 22 lives. He added that some other inflammable materials, including flex and tyres also contributed to the massive fire at the four-storeyed Takshashila Arcade in Sarthana, Surat

"The fire spread very quickly because highly inflammable materials, such as flex, were used... The ceiling (of the coaching institute) was just five feet high. Since one cannot sit on a chair in such a room, the owner used tyres instead of chairs for the students," Singh was quoted as saying by PTI.

According to Singh, fire tenders failed to reach at the scene of the incident because they were stationed around 45 minutes away from the building. "High-capacity fire tenders took time to reach the spot as they were stationed at a considerable distance, around 45 minutes away. It hampered the fire-fighting operation to some extent," he added.

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Surat police on Sunday arrested two persons in connection with the case. They were identified as Harshul Vekharia and Jignesh Paghdal. The duo was arrested just a day after the police held coaching class owner Bhargav Butani.

Meanwhile, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has directed Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Development Department, Mukesh Puri, to conduct a thorough inquiry in this case. Rupani has also asked Puri to submit a report on Monday. Singh said that the Surat incident has prompted the municipalities and municipal corporations across the state to identify buildings which are not in compliance with fire safety norms.

The Gujarat chief secretary added that 713 teams have been formed by municipalities and corporations to identify such buildings. He said that over 9,900 buildings housing tuition classes, malls and hospitals have already been reviewed and over 9,300 premises have been issued show-cause notices too. The owners of all these buildings have been warned to install fire-fighting systems or else the government will seal the buildings.