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Old 2nd June 2020, 12:51   #1
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Default Fire at Hotel Arpit Palace, Delhi - A survivor's experience

Wikipedia entry on the incident

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Originally Posted by NPV View Post
What device did you finally get for him ?

If/when you find time do try to share more about the scary experience your dad went through.
We bought Galaxy watch active 2 for him.

Note to mods- please move this post to appropriate thread as I am sure it does not fit here.


Before I start, allow me to provide brief background about the characters involved.
I am adhering higher studies in Ahmedabad, live in rented flat.
My parents live in Bharuch.
Dad [Mr. Harish] is serving in state government. Mom is though active in teaching and charity, mostly housewife. My sister is complying medical studies in Vadodara.
Law officer and Dad’s colleague. She was from Navsari.

12th February, around 00:15 - Plane carrying my dad and his colleague was grounded at Delhi airport where driver was already waiting for them. Driver knew my dad as he has to make 2-3 visits to Delhi every month as part of his job. On the way to Hotel, their car met with at least 3 roads blocked by corporation workers as they were doing some maintenance work so they had to take longer routes and it took almost an hour to reach the hotel.
It was already very late, dad called mom and instead of calling me, he dropped a text message “reached, flight was late” which was our “regular” practice whenever he goes outstation.


HOTEL ARPIT PALACE,

Their check-in time – 12th February 1.40 AM.
My dad’s room number - 405
Dad's colleague’s room number – 403

While reaching to rooms, they found that room no-403 was in far corner and my dad's colleague was not happy with that so she asked the waiter (who was opening the room) if there was any other room available, to which waiter denied and told that entire hotel is booked by a family who came there for wedding ceremony, my dad offered his room (405) to her and told that he would be fine with room 403 - amidst that discussion waiter opened the room and it was good so she told dad that she would fine there (403) as it was just a matter of one day. She was about to be back next evening while my dad had to stay for 4 days.

While in dad’s room, waiter came with room heater as it was chilling cold in Delhi but dad is always sceptical about room heaters and never liked them, so he told waiter to take it back to which waiter replied that heater is all safe and would turn off automatically and placed it near wall which my dad objected and told to place it in middle of the room - away from wall, to which waiter obliged.

Note- Following talks were in Gujarati, I am leveraging my poor translation skill to preserve as much originality as I could. Please pardon me if I fail to follow correct syntax and request all to re-imagine the talk in your mother tongue to better understand the situation and thought process.

TIME- 4:29 AM, I was in my quilt enjoying heavenly winter sleep when my phone rang. I don’t know how but I picked it up almost instantly,

Me- Hello, jsk (religious phrase we normally use while initiating/ending the call).

Dad- (with calm voice) Rushi (my nickname), listen. I am in hotel Arpit Palace. 405 room number. There is a fire in hotel.

Me- (blank) Pappa, where are you now?

Dad- I am here standing in room near window.

Me- (trying to manage my composure) Has fire brigade reached?

Dad- Can’t see anything, people are shouting from outside but have not yet heard any siren. Maybe No they are not here.

Me- (still blank) Are you ok?

Dad- (silence for around 2 seconds) I am not safe.

Me- Pappa, please stay calm, don’t panic. (Maybe I was telling to myself)

Dad- Son, don’t worry. I try my best.

Me- Please call me as soon as they rescue you. Please remain conscious.

Dad- Ha.

Me- which hotel?

Dad- Arpit palace, room-405.

Me- Ok, JSK.

Dad- JSK.

I sat shocked and blank for about a minute than promptly started googling for guidelines about what to do in case of fire.

TIME- 4:43 AM, I called dad,

Me- (trying to remain normal) JSK, How is there?

Dad- (dull voice) No siren yet but shouting of people is getting louder.

Me- Its ok, can you manage to have water? Put wet cloth on your mouth.

Dad- (low voice and coughs in-between) I am already doing this, I wet my night dress with saliva and keep it on nose and mouth. But now situation is getting worse. Smokes from lower floors are coming into me. It is hard to breath.

( silence for 5-6 seconds )

Me- keep doing this, try to do as much as you can do.

Dad- Son, I think, I, I am not safe. Don’t call me again. Son, .................................................. ...........
(sorry, I can’t write that talk here, they best be remain between us)

Dad- Last night I left my wallet on nearby table, it must be there let me try ... oh, can’t, going inside not possible.

Me- It’s ok, it’s ok.

Dad- Don’t call me again.

Me- In case you are rescued, call me immediately. Stay calm, relax. Try as much as possible. Jsk.

Dad- hmm, Jsk.

That feeling when you are losing your loved one but you can’t do anything, that thoughts of being helpless, that thoughts of being defeated are worst, sorry I am short on words here.
I pray almighty God to never make anyone face such situation, it is very painful.

TIME- 5:11 AM
DAD’S CALL,

Dad- (with lot of shivering, I could feel it on phone) Rushi, I have been rescued. I am safe. I am safe now. I am still on ladder crane, it is being going down. I am safe.

Me- (started feeling myself as light as feather) ha, goood, ook. Are you injured?

Dad- No. Not at all.
Me- Awesome, well done. Now take time, take deep breaths and be relax.

Dad- Ha, but I shall now find my colleague first, I called her but her phone was switched off. I call you later. And don’t worry, I am safe now.

Me- ha, bye. JSK.

(I heard him telling firefighter about a single lady in 403 while disconnecting)

He was safe and that was all I wanted.

Last edited by Aditya : 6th June 2020 at 11:17. Reason: Name removed
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Old 2nd June 2020, 12:58   #2
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Above was the incident from my point of view. Now let’s look at what my dad had done before calling me.

At around 4:20 am, dad developed difficulty in breathing due to which he woke up, upon waking up he found that the night lamp was not working and it was dark in the room with peculiar smoky smell. He hastily rushed towards the door. As soon as he had opened the door slightly, hot cloud of smoke rushed into the room and filled the room in no time. He closed the door immediately but to excessive smoke it was too dark in the room now and dad was feeling difficulty in breathing, he consciously felt that he was losing consciousness and mind was getting blank. He started hurriedly towards the window with the help of wall for navigation and support. Upon reaching near the window he realized that due to winter he have not checked what kind of window was that (sliding or regular opening), he opened the curtains and to his sheer luck, on his first touch to window he touched the stopper, tried opening it and once again luckily it was opened in first try. He opened the windows and smoke started to go outside. But soon there was a new problem and a major one, very hot smoke from the fire of underneath floors started coming into my dad’s window and started suffocating and burning him. But there was no choice other than standing at window and shouting “save...save...” which my dad was doing. He had wet his kurta (night dress) with salivas and smelling it while breathing to reduce inhaling of poisonous gas. Than at 4:29 Am he called me.

# Dad informed mom, sister and other family members after 7 am till then they were not at all aware about the tragedy (I didn’t informed anyone), only me and dad knew what had happened that night/early morning. By then I was already on the way to vadodara, picked up my sister and we went to Bharuch.

# Dad had taken many lectures on industrial and workplace safety at various offices and institutes, which helped him immensely to remain composed and making conscious decisions.

# Dad and fire fighters could not find his colleague, later in afternoon dad was called to identify her among the dead bodies recovered, but dad could not identify as bodies were badly burnt. In evening, there was only few unclaimed bodies remained to which authorities had to call her son who already landed Delhi to identify her. He identified the body. She was later buried in Delhi itself. She is survived by her son and deaf mother. My mom and she were good friends.

# When rescued, dad had only phone with him. Neighbouring hotel provided dad a quilt, water and tea to calm him down as he was shivering due to cold, excitement and Parkinson’s disease. We show our heartfelt gratitude to that hotel.

# Fire had not entirely covered dad’s room and luckily dad’s wallet and most of the office files later recovered unburnt, though black.

# After completing all the formalities dad return home on late evening of 13th February.

Some IFs which still give shatters to my parents, What would have happened

if dad had not told waiter to place heater in middle of the room and not near wall,

if dad had crashed with wardrobe or heater or any other object and have fall down while going to window from door.

if window had not opened.

if there was a grill on window.

“ IF LIFE WERE PREDICTABLE, IT WOULD CEASE TO BE LIFE, AND BE WITHOUT FLAVOR”

May all be happy,
Be peaceful,
Be liberated.
God bless you all.

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Last edited by Aditya : 6th June 2020 at 11:17. Reason: Name removed
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Old 4th June 2020, 12:38   #3
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Default Re: Fire at Hotel Arpit Palace, Delhi - A survivor's experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by JJay View Post
Before I start, allow me to provide brief background about the characters involved.
Thank you for sharing the experience, and to NPV for requesting the same. Moving your posts to a new thread. Am so glad he made it out okay .
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Old 4th June 2020, 12:51   #4
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Default Re: Fire at Hotel Arpit Palace, Delhi - A survivor's experience

What a horrific incident. Happy to hear you dad survived but at the same time sad his colleague didn't.

Incidents like these will keep happening and nothing will change. That's just how everything in India is. Unless the owner is dead set on not saving money related to safety measures nothing will change as govt. doesn't want to enforce either.

Last edited by Aditya : 6th June 2020 at 11:18. Reason: Name removed
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Old 4th June 2020, 13:39   #5
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Default Re: Fire at Hotel Arpit Palace, Delhi - A survivor's experience

That was really lucky escape for your father.

But what about the Fire alarm / alert system at this Hotel?
IT should activate loud alarm right on the first detection of small wisp of smoke.

Oh, checked the wiki page:
Issues noted were no panic alarm on any of the floors or in the restaurants, only one emergency exit that was locked, and no proper signage to guide the guests to the emergency exit

Pathetic state of affairs in our country.
Lax regulations, cavalier attitudes.
A proper fire alarm system of 5-50 Lakhs is more costly in our country compared to the lives lost.

Looks like Uphaar Cinema fire (Delhi) is already a forgotten chapter in history.

Last edited by alpha1 : 4th June 2020 at 13:54.
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Old 4th June 2020, 14:00   #6
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Default Re: Fire at Hotel Arpit Palace, Delhi - A survivor's experience

Glad that your father was lucky and escaped safe.

One of my colleague was not so lucky and ended his life that day in that incident. He was 35 years of age at that time. He was staying in that hotel after attending the Boss's son's marriage ceremony.
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Old 4th June 2020, 14:06   #7
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Default Re: Fire at Hotel Arpit Palace, Delhi - A survivor's experience

A few videos and some visuals to give the perspective of the extent of the fire from outside the building.

https://twitter.com/NEWS9TWEETS/stat...39252382232576

https://twitter.com/NewsHtn/status/1095153952255922176

https://twitter.com/ANI/status/1095123061043412993

Source: Link

Everytime my office runs a fire drill, I always wondered how the folks talking and chatting about their work during the drill would react in an actual situation. Thanks for sharing this @JJay. I hope there were no post-incident effects (on breathing, mental impact, etc).
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Old 4th June 2020, 14:37   #8
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Default Re: Fire at Hotel Arpit Palace, Delhi - A survivor's experience

All inquiries and reports are made after any fatal incident which result in certain recommendations besides the lack of FLS (Fire Life safety). Alas, all is forgotten after some time and all recommendations get buried deep down under piles of other useless papers.
Fire Officer issues No Objection Certificate from his office - we all know how. There are no surprise checks to see if the basic requirements of FLS are in place or not.
In my experience, we invited Civil Defence Authorities (competent authority to issue clearance to buildings) in Dubai to inspect a newly constructed building after certifying that the building was complete.
When he and his team arrived, he found our site team and workers in full Safety Gear - With safety Shoes and Safety Helmets. His question was that if the building is ready for occupation, then why we are in Safety Gear.
The Building's Fire Alarm systems are connected with Fire Stations, that have all the drawings showing the escape routes and location of other Life Safety devices. The Fire Department personnel study them while driving to the place of accident.
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Old 4th June 2020, 15:54   #9
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Default Re: Fire at Hotel Arpit Palace, Delhi - A survivor's experience

Happy to know that your dad was lucky and got rescued. All is well that ends well and at the same time, feel very sorry for the perished lifes. I can only imagine that harrowing hour or so which you went through after getting the first call from him.
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Old 4th June 2020, 16:12   #10
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Default Re: Fire at Hotel Arpit Palace, Delhi - A survivor's experience

Thanks for sharing this incredible story. Must have been incredibly stressful for your dad and yourself. So sorry for those who perished.

Fires in buildings tend to start small, but they are more often than not, extremely dangerous. It can spread at unbelievable speeds, people might panick adding to the chaos and danger etc.

I had to deal with fire onboard the vessels I worked on a few times. One thing I learned, it is almost impossible to predict who will respond well, who will panick.

So yes, it is all down to training of the staff, but it takes a lot of training to get people to do the right things when life and limb are being threatened.

As part of my Merchant Navy and Offshore Training I attended multiple Fire Fighting / Prevention workshops/seminars etc. One of the things I always remember is a very scary statistic: On average; When you are staying in buildings above the third floor, your chances of survival in case of fire reduces significantly.

You can still jump out of third storey window and survive, you will likely suffer broken body parts, but still survivable. Fire fighter with ladder/chery pickers might reach a few storey’s higher, but have very limited capacity in bringing a large number of people down.

I know some companies for this very reason won’t allow their staff to stay in high rise hotels unless they get rooms on the lower floors.

Jeroen
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Old 4th June 2020, 17:33   #11
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Default Re: Fire at Hotel Arpit Palace, Delhi - A survivor's experience

It's one of my worst nightmares, being stuck in the upper floors of a building when it's on Fire.
I've attached a pdf that has been circulated within my organization for people who travel often, this has the precautions one could take while checking into the hotel itself, this has been written by a fireman. I hope people find it useful. I also hope this is not against the forum rules.

The most practical thing to do if you a suspect a fire while inside the hotel is to call the fire department. If you inform the front desk, they will probably send a bellhop or a security guard to investigate, wasting valuable time.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Fire protocols.pdf (769.8 KB, 322 views)

Last edited by ike : 4th June 2020 at 18:00.
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Old 5th June 2020, 10:25   #12
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Default Re: Fire at Hotel Arpit Palace, Delhi - A survivor's experience

Dear @Jjay, I can only imagine what you must have gone through whilst you were waiting for that call. No one should ever face such a situation

Thank God for coming out of this all safe !
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Old 5th June 2020, 11:31   #13
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Default Re: Fire at Hotel Arpit Palace, Delhi - A survivor's experience

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Originally Posted by JJay View Post
Me- In case you are rescued, call me immediately. Stay calm, relax. Try as much as possible. Jsk.

I can only imagine the strength required in saying this sentence. Thanks for sharing this experience.
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Old 5th June 2020, 12:31   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alpha1 View Post
But what about the Fire alarm / alert system at this Hotel?

Oh, checked the wiki page no panic alarm on any of the floors or in the restaurants, only one emergency exit that was locked, and no proper signage to guide the guests to the emergency exit
True, there was only one emergency exit that was "locked", more to that, there was a liberal use of wood in furniture and stairs for aesthetic purpose so it was impossible to get down through stairs irrespective of emergency or regular.

When dad along with police went back to recover belongings, they found half burnt purse and footwear of my dad's colleague in corridor 2-3 meters away from her room, means she tried.

All in all, so many lives could have been saved.

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Originally Posted by archat68 View Post
One of my colleague was not so lucky and ended his life that day in that incident. He was 35 years of age at that time.
I am sorry, very sad he couldn't survive.

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Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
I hope there were no post-incident effects (on breathing, mental impact, etc).
There was almost nil impact on dad but mom started developing fear and she would call him every 2-3 hours when he goes out station. They even had a sweet fight when dad had to re-visit Delhi within a month of said incident. With time everything came back to normalcy. Time heals every wound.

On positive side, they have started doing meditation and leading happier life.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
Fires in buildings tend to start small, but they are more often than not, extremely dangerous. It can spread at unbelievable speeds, people might panic adding to the chaos and danger etc.

One thing I learned, it is almost impossible to predict who will respond well, who will panic.

When you are staying in buildings above the third floor, your chances of survival in case of fire reduces significantly. You can still jump out of third storey window and survive, you will likely suffer broken body parts, but still survivable.
Thanks for sharing useful insights. I absolutely agree with your points.

Dad later told me that he had given a thought of jumping down with mattress but discarded it almost instantly comparing the possibility of survival in both the instances.
There were few people who jumped off and except a woman, all died.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ike View Post
It's one of my worst nightmares, being stuck in the upper floors of a building when it's on Fire.
I've attached a pdf that has been circulated within my organization for people who travel often, this has the precautions one could take while checking into the hotel itself, this has been written by a fireman.
Thanks for sharing it. Very simple, informative and helpful.
With the kind of safety related policy implementations and inspections we have in place, onus of our safety lies almost entirely on ourselves.

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Originally Posted by Sk8r View Post
Dear @Jjay, I can only imagine what you must have gone through whilst you were waiting for that call. No one should ever face such a situation
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thanos-VV View Post
I can only imagine that harrowing hour or so which you went through after getting the first call from him.All is well that ends well and at the same time feel sorry for the perished lives.
Yes indeed that 42 minutes were the most frustrating minutes of my life. You are right that All is well that ends well. But really sad that it didn't end well for everyone.

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Originally Posted by amods View Post
I can only imagine the strength required in saying this sentence. Thanks for sharing this experience.
I felt defeated within and lost normalcy for a while but I have been doing vipassana meditation since teenage, it was the reason I could stay relatively calm and not panicked.

REQUEST TO MODS- please merge this post with my last post.

Last edited by Aditya : 6th June 2020 at 11:14. Reason: Name removed
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Old 5th June 2020, 13:24   #15
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Default Re: Fire at Hotel Arpit Palace, Delhi - A survivor's experience

Hey JJay, do you guys have a chance at suing this Hotel?
The problem with hotels is that people affected are scattered, and do not belong to the same city.
But it needs to be done.

Criminal proceedings by the City Govt can go on parallely.

Last edited by alpha1 : 5th June 2020 at 13:26.
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