- Fire is a product of city life.
- Means of extinguishing fire.
- Description of a house on fire.
- Help and rescue work.
I do not think we have heard of many instances of fire breaking out in village. It is true that when a fire breaks out in a village, it soon goes beyond control, because there are no means of extinguishing it. I am rather inclined to think that fire is one of the worst evils that came upon us when we gave up our villages and started staying in closely packed houses in the cities.
Necessity, it is said, is the mother of invention. When there were many cases of fire, ways and means of extinguishing it and controlling it were invented. Accordingly, we find fire engines, brigades and stations located at important points in a city.
I once saw a house on fire. It was a huge tall three-storeyed building. Clouds of smoke were coming out. Cries of help came out as people ran out in confusion, gathering their children, calling out names. Some hastily gathered their gold and money and ran out. On hearing the furious ringing of the bell from the fire-brigade, people looked out from their windows and shops. A big crowd was collected and complete confusion prevailed.
The police rushed to the spot. The ambulance cars arrived. Another fire-brigade arrived. Men with steel helmets, taking a long hose, connected it to one of the street water pipes, and directed it towards the spot from where the flames seemed to be coming. The folded staircase was lifted up and taken near the building. Some men of the fire-brigade climbed up the stair-case and jumped into the building. Their daring was most amazing. Making their way through smoke and fire they went to the people shouting for help, and bodily lifted them up. They rescued the children first. Then they helped the women and brought them to the ground. Last of all came the turn of men. But in the meantime, the whole building was ablaze. Long tongues of fire leaped out from all parts of the building. The remaining inmates rushed towards the staircase, but it was gutted with fire. There was no exit left from where they could escape. Some of them jumped from the height, believing that it was better to break the bones than to be roasted alive in fire. Some were waiting for help. Some were very anxious about their valuables.
Many more fire-brigades came to help. After a strenuous fight the fire was brought under control, but only after a great damage was done. The whole building had cracked. The balcony had fallen down. Doors, windows and the wood in the ceiling were completely burnt. Many injured themselves by falling and many were severely burnt. Many were rushed to the hospitals. Some were treated there and then. The flames gradually subsided but the dying fire still presented a horrible sight. I am sure you too must have read about it or seen its photograph in the papers.