KATHMANDU, Jan 6: Three members of a family -- a mother and her two daughters -- were burnt to death in a fire that broke out at Purnabhakta Prajapati´s house at Taulachhen, Suryamadhi of Bhaktapur Municipality -1 on mid-night Saturday.
According to Superintendent of Police (SP) Dilip Kumar Chaudhary, chief of Metropolitan Police Range, Bhaktapur, the deceased have been identified as Laxmi Keshari Prajapati, 64, her elder daughter Parbati Prajapati, 39, and younger daughter Sajana Prajapati, 26.
Laxmikeshari, a mother of six daughters and two sons, died while attempting to rescue her daughters who were sleeping on the fourth floor of the old house.
“The fire was reported at about 12:50 am and when we reached the spot the house was already in flames,” said SP Chaudhary. However, Purnabhakta, Laxmi´s husband, and their youngest daughter Srijana Prajapati managed to escape, said the police.
Amar Duwal, a neighbor, said, “After attending a neighbor burial ceremony, Purnabhakta had lit a fire on Makal (traditional room heater). As he forgot to douse the fire, the fire spread and burnt the house. Straw and other light objects that were in the house helped it spread throughout the house, said a neighbor.
SP Chaudhary said of the three deceased Laxmi´s body has been burnt badly. “It seems Laxmi died of burn injuries, while the other two died of suffocation.”
According to the police, property worth around Rs 1.9 million was gutted in the fire. |It took more than three hours for the police and fire engines to bring the fire under control. Fire engine from Bhaktapur reached the site only an hour after the fire was reported. Fire engines from Lalitpur and Kathmandu had been sent to bring the fire under control.
“Had we depended on the fire engine from Bhaktapur we would have incurred more damages. Fire engines from Lalitpur and Kathmandu prevented the fire from inflicting further damages as the fire broke out when people were deep asleep,” said Punya Ram Lawaju, a local.
Purushottam Khadka, in-charge of the Bhaktapur fire brigade, said the fire engine from Bhatapur was not in a proper condition.
(With inputs from Archana Hengaju, Bhaktapur)
Eye witness account
Raj Kumar Prajapati (22)
I heard people shouting at 12:30 am. Initially, I thought thieves might have broken into the house. But within a few minutes the cry for support became louder and I saw smoke bellowing out of the house. I followed my brother and tried to help the family.
I saw hands moving in the room where two sisters -- Parbati Prajapati and Sajana Prajapati -- were two sisters lived. But I couldn´t enter the house as it was filled with smoke. After some time, the father, mother and the youngest daughter managed to come out of the house. But mother rushed into the house to save her two daughters. She didn´t return. Fire engines arrived at about 1 am. But they had difficulty in taking the fire under control. Fortunately, Abhishek Prajapati, 10-year-old grandson of Purnabhakta, was not in the house that night.
Sulochana Prajapati (32)
When I woke up, my room was pitch dark because of the smoke bellowing from the adjoining house. After we knew about the fire, all of us evacuated the house. When we were out of the house, I couldn´t see our house as fire was about to engulf it. I felt unconscious for about an hour before the rescue team arrived. When I gained consciousness, I saw members of fire brigade and locals trying to douse the fire. Together with some friends, I managed to bring some garments and handicraft items from the woolen shop in the ground floor of the building.