Vijayawada: Atleast ten patients were feared killed when a fire broke out at a private COVID-19 care centre, Swarna Palace Hotel, on Eluru Road in Vijayawada in the early hours of Sunday.

The fire, which broke out at 4.30 am on the first floor of the multi-storied hotel, quickly spread to the second floor too. A private hospital, Ramesh Hospital, had a tie-up with the Swarna Palace Hotel to run a COVID care centre.

The fire occurred on the first floor of the multi-storied building, the flames and smoke spread to the second floor of the building also. A private hospital has been running the COVID Care Center in Vijayawada city.

Investigation revealed that the fire first broke out in the computer section of the hotel. “Because the hotel is regularly sanitized, the alcoholic content acted like a catalyst. Sanitizers were stored in large quantity in the ground floor which amplified the fire that quickly spread to 1st floor. Wooden furniture in the first and second floor was quick to catch the fire. Smoke engulfed in the second floor, hampering the exit . Patients from 1st and 2nd had to break the windows to open. There is no fire alarm, due to which the management did not react immediately’ said the investigator.

Vijayawada Police Commissioner B Srinivasulu said that the electrical short- circuit might have the reason for the fire mishap. The incident took place when the patients were asleep.

At the time of the incident, there were 30 COVID-19 suspects and over ten members of the medical staff of the hospital in the COVID Care Center. Some patients jumped from the first floor of the building to save their lives and suffered severe injuries, the police commissioner added.

The police and fire service personnel rushed the spot and doused the fire. The police, fire service and NDRF personnel used ladders to rescue the remaining people in the CCC as there was no scope to use staircases due to smoke and fire.

Five fire tenders were pressed into the service to brought the situation under control.

The NDRF and Medical personnel shifted the COVID-19 patients in the CCC to other hospitals in five ambulances.

The police are suspecting that the death toll may increase in the incident as some people suffered injuries.

The Krishna district administration has ordered a probe into the fire tragedy. The police said 15 private COVID Care Centers have been operating in Vijayawada city, and there is urgent need to examine the fire safety at all the COVID Care Centers. EOM

The Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has also asked the officials to fix the responsibility if there was any negligence on the part of hospital or hotel management or any the hotel lacked foolproof fire safety system in its premises

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