Patients evacuated as major fire breaks out at AIIMS

No injuries reported; virology unit gutted; 34 fire tenders pressed into service

A major fire broke out in the teaching block of All India Institute of Medical Sciences on Saturday forcing evacuation of some patients and destroying samples and medical reports. No injuries were reported in the incident.

Delhi Fire Service Chief Atul Garg said that the call was made at 4.50 p.m. regarding fire on the second floor in a non-patient area after which 34 fire tenders were pressed into service.

“At least 32 patients were evacuated from gastroenterology wing which was close to the affected areas. The virology unit of the microbiology department was gutted,” said an official.

The fire was brought under control by 6.30 p.m. but had not been doused completely till 11.30 p.m. Cooling off operation continued for the next few hours. The fire department said that the cause of fire is yet to be ascertained, however, a short circuit is suspected to the reason. Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Parvinder Singh said that local police, DDMA teams and one contingent of NDRF was present at the spot to control the situation.

The fire department said that the blaze started from the microbiology department on the second floor and spread across five floors, triggering panic among the patients, attendants and staff, and affecting emergency services.

They said it was suspected that a large number of samples and patient records were destroyed as the virology unit was completely gutted. The surgery and urology offices on the fifth floor of the building were also affected due to the fire. A few faculty rooms and offices were also affected.

“AIIMS has put contingency measures in place. Emergency services are being run in a restricted manner and no new patients are being admitted. They are being referred to Safdarjung Hospital. Routine admission has been withheld till Sunday,” a hospital source said.

In a statement, AIIMS said that the fire was controlled but the agencies were still on the job. “There has been no loss or damage to life. As a precautionary measure, the patient’s admitted in adjoining AB Wing have been shifted out to the other wings of the hospital temporarily,” said Aarti Vij, chairperson of Media and Protocol Division adding that information regarding patients admitted in the AB Wing, can be obtained from control room — 011-26593308.

Special fire audit

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who was closely monitoring the situation, discussed the need to conduct a special fire audit.

“AIIMS regularly does this exercise, however, a more comprehensive special audit will be conducted,” he said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “I appeal to everyone to maintain calm and allow the Fire Services personnel to do their work.”

(With PTI inputs)

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