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I-T officer dies in fire at CR Building in Delhi; No data loss related to taxpayers, says tax dept

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New Delhi, May 14 (PTI) A 46-year-old income tax officer died while six people were rescued after a massive fire broke out at the Income Tax CR Building at ITO in central Delhi Tuesday afternoon, police said.

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The Delhi Fire Service said 21 fire tenders were rushed to the site after it received a call at 3.07 pm and it took around four hours to douse the blaze.

According to a police officer, the fire started in the office of the Commissioner in room number 325 on the third floor of the building. He said many of the employees were outside the building as it was lunchtime, otherwise, the casualty could have been more.

"It is suspected that fire occurred due to a short circuit in the air conditioner but the actual cause will be ascertained only after forensic examination's report," the officer said.

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The employee, an office superintendent, who died in the incident was in room number 316 when the fire broke out. "It appears that he was not able to come out due to the dense smoke inside of the building and suffocated to death ," the police officer said.

According to some purported videos of the incident that were shared on social media, some people took shelter on a window ledge while escaping the fire. The firefighters helped them get down through ladders.

The income tax department said there was no data loss pertaining to taxpayers due to the fire and condoled the death of the officer.

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In a post on X, the income tax department said the fire is now under control and the cause is being ascertained.

"A tragic fire incident occurred today in the Central Revenue building, New Delhi... The fire broke out in room no. 325 and adjoining room, primarily used for administrative purposes," the I-T department said, adding immediate evacuation was carried out and fire brigades were promptly called in.

"No physical records have been damaged. There was no data loss pertaining to taxpayers as all Income Tax Returns are being filed online and all related proceedings are also being conducted electronically," it said.

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The tax department said the office superintendent was trapped due to smoke and lost his life, despite best efforts to save him.

"Income Tax Department extends its deepest condolences to the bereaved family of the departed soul and is extending every assistance to his family in this hour of grief," it said.

The fire service personnel broke open the window panes during the rescue operation and seven people - five men and two women - were brought out from the building.

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"A 46-year-old, posted as officer superintendent, was found unconscious and later he was declared dead at the hospital," a senior police officer said, adding that forensic teams visited the spot.

Police said that the officer was a resident of east Delhi.

The building is located opposite the old Police Headquarters, which is still occupied by the force for some of its units.

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"As the firefighters reached the site, they started evacuation efforts. We had to use gas masks due to toxic fumes, but all those who were in the building were rescued safely. We have informed the local police of the area for further investigation into the matter to know the actual cause of the fire," DFS chief Atul Garg said.

A senior official of the fire department said that the building does not require any NOC as it is not above 15 metres and comprises ground-plus-three floors.

"The building has all the firefighting equipment but very less people were inside due to lunchtime. An NOC is only required if the building is above 15 metres or has ground-plus- four floors or more," said the fire official.

The officer said the other six rescued "took shelter either close to the window ledge or ran down".

"It is an unfortunate incident as the officer was found unconscious in front of his door which was barely 10 metres away from the window and only 20 steps away from the stairs.

"The smoke was so dense inside the office that we were not able to see inside the premises," said the official of the fire department.

The officer said that they received the fire call late which is possible as it was lunchtime.

"There was not a single burn mark on the body of the officer, but it was unfortunate that he could not come out or scream for help on time. We always request everyone to call the fire department immediately in case of any emergency," said the officer. PTI BM ALK RT

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