Mangaluru, April 30, 2017: Reports show that a building for aged widows, belonging to the United Basel Mission Church was gutted here on Apr 29, Saturday. However, there were no injuries or loss of life, estimates are the loss is around 10 lakhs.
It is said 3 widows, Celestine Salins (60), Sophia Bangera (75) and Gracy Welton (75), have been residing in the quarters located on the 11th Cross of Mission Compound Road here for about 20 years now. The facility has four rooms and a common toilet and bathroom facility,for aged widows by the church. Ms. Salins, Ms. Bangera and Ms. Welton were staying in a room each. The quarters, about 50 years old, had a section in the front portion covered with dry coconut leaves. The quarters had a roof of Mangalore tiles supported by wood.
As usual, Ms. Salins began to cook “ganji” (gruel) using firewood just outside the quarters. But suddenly a gust of wind blew some sparks from the firewood and the thatched coconut leaves caught fire. It spread to the entire quarters at around 11 a.m.
Soon a call was made to the Fire and Emergency Services and a fire tender rushed to the spot. Electricity connection to the quarters was disconnected. Two LPG cylinders inside the quarters were brought out immediately.
It took the Fire and Emergency Services personnel about an hour and a half to bring the fire under control. Meanwhile, the church has made alternative arrangements for the three widows to stay in another widows quarters nearby. Ms. Salins is reported to have said, that the outbreak of fire happened suddenly when she was preparing ganji. “I was holding the utensil, when it all happened suddenly because of the wind,” she said.
Rev. David F. Nirmanik, pastor of United Basel Mission Jubilee Church, said that the loss due to the fire was estimated at Rs. 10 lakh. “We will rebuild the quarters in about 10 to 12 months. If the government gives some compensation, it will help,” he said.
Utensils, clothes and most other belongings of the three women too were gutted. Meanwhile, Pramod Madhwaraj, Minister of State for Fisheries, Youth Affairs and Sports, visited the spot and provided some consoltion.