Burns victim dies after saving toddler

Kathmandu, December 31

Apsara Shrestha struggled till her last breath -- first to protect the child from the fire that had engulfed their bedroom and then in the hospital. But she succumbed to severe burn injuries early this morning, leaving behind her one-and-a-half-year old son, Prayan Joshi.

The baby is undergoing treatment at Mediciti Hospital under the custody of his maternal family since his father Pushkar Raj Joshi also succumbed to burns at a Kirtipur hospital on December 27.

All three had suffered burns when a fire broke out in the bedroom of their rented apartment in Lampati, Kalanki, on December 22. Pushkar and Apsara, both aged 37, were engineers by profession.

According to family sources, the fire broke out from a room heater powered by electricity and cooking gas at around 5:00pm. Family sources said the couple had got the heater repaired from a local electric shop the same day.

According to Padam Oli, a close friend of Pushkar, apparently the couple were having snacks when the fire spread. “The heater was placed near the door, which was locked from inside. It is likely that the door itself was on fire, locking all three in the room.”

Padam said since windowpanes of the room were broken, the couple might have tried to escape from the window but failed to do so due to the iron grill.

Deputy Superintendent of Police at Kalimati Police Circle Devendra Pal said the fire might have spread swiftly due to the highly-inflammable floor mat in the room. Cupboards and the bed, however, didn’t suffer much harm.

DSP Pal said the parents apparently saved the child by covering him with their bodies. “The toddler was covered by the mother and the father was lying on the top.”

All three were rushed to Shahid Memorial Hospital around one hour after the fire once the house owner called police. They were transferred to Kirtipur Hospital after two hours.   Pushkar was kept on ventilator and doctors even severed both his hands which were severely burnt, but could not save him.

Pushkar hailed from Baitadi, while Apsara was from Tanahun. Both graduated from Kathmandu Engineering College and got married five years ago. Pushkar worked as consultant engineer in JICA, while Apsara was working at the Department of Road.