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Mumbai, May 27: The simple task of fetching milk from a stall saved Deepali Nivedkar from certain death.

Minutes after she stepped out of her Shiv Nagar home in Antop Hill on Friday to fetch milk from her husband Deepak’s dairy stall, a fire from a leaking cylinder partially destroyed her house and injured 72 local residents. Among them are Deepali’s two-year-old son Vinay and brother-in-law Lahu (33).

Vinay, admitted to KEM Hospital in Parel with 90 per cent burns, is battling for his life. The others, several critically injured, are being treated at Lokmanya Hospital, Sion, KEM Hospital, Parel and Kasturba Hospital, Chinchpokli.

Deepali realised the cylinder was leaking when she entered the kitchen yesterday morning.

“The whole house was smelling of gas. I told Lahu about it and he took the cylinder outside to check,” recalled Deepali. Soon after, Deepali left for the depot. When she and Deepak returned, they found the house and the neighbouring gulli in flames.

“My son must have followed Lahu out of curiosity,” said an inconsolable Deepali.

Lahu and his friend Taj Wadkar (35) took the cylinder outside and decided to immerse it in a drum of water. Before doing so, they warned their neighbours, asking them to switch off their power mains.

However, the gas spread in the narrow alley and within minutes there was a loud explosion. Fire-fighters from Dadar fire station reached the spot in 15 minutes, but it took them at least 30 minutes to douse the flames. 


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