By R. Lester Makang
UKHRUL, January 5: The onset of windy dry season has already taken its toll.
An 8-year-old girl has been charred to death in her sleep while a residential compound located opposite the Litan Police Station including commercial structures like shops, hotels and rented houses razed to the ground after a raging inferno broke out at Litan Sareikhong in Ukhrul district on the night of February 4.
The deceased girl has been identified as Julia Vashum, 8, daughter of Sochipem Vashum of Khamasom village but currently staying at Litan Sareikhong.
Sources said she was brought to the house for company on the fateful night by one of her relatives (woman) who was alone as her family members had gone to Imphal for medical treatment.
When the women (relative) woke up during the night at around 11:30 pm, she found something unusual.
She rushed outside leaving the sleeping child to see what was going on but the blaze spread from the adjacent room soon engulfing the house beyond control and attempts to rescue the girl failed, sources said.
The house was said to be located close to the house where the fire is believed to have start.
“Only a small part of the charred body probably the buttock portion was recovered from the debris after the blazing fire that engulfed the row of wooden structures,” the Litan Police OC, Inspector N Manikanta said.
He added that the same has been sent to RIMS for necessary medical procedure.
He further said that the fire might have broken out around 11.15 pm when most people were fast asleep and people came to know of it around 11:30 pm when there was loud explosion of LPG cylinder.
“We immediately alarmed the Fire Brigade of both Imphal and Ukhrul but owing to the long distance, it took nearly two hours for the two fire tenders from Manipur Fire Service, Imphal and another one fire tender from Ukhrul Fire Station to reach the spot.”
Police said the firefighters managed to keep the fire from further spreading by dousing water over all the structures on the opposite side as the trees standing on the other side had began to catch fire.
However, the source/cause of the blazing fire could not be established till the filing of this report.
Inspector Manikanta said that it could be due to electrical short circuit or could be from a kitchen fire left unattended.
Eye-witnesses said they saw the blaze engulfing the wooden structures located in a row on the northern side of the main road.
It was out of control and they had to pull down four houses to prevent further spreading of the fire.
Of the thirty one houses gutted by the fire, thirteen houses were occupied by the landlords while seventeen by tenants and shopkeepers. Properties worth over rupees ten crores along with lakhs in cash were destroyed in the fire.
Meanwhile, ADC, Ukhrul has distributed relief materials like rice, dal, salts, blankets to the victims. Ukhrul DC SK Chaurasia has also assured to extend the best possible assistance towards the victims.