Gujarat Chief Secretary JN Singh, while giving details about the fire that broke out in a coaching centre in Surat city, said on Sunday, that the presence of inflammable materials, including flex and tyres contributed to the raging fire in which 22 students, including 18 girls of an art and craft coaching institute died.

Singh also informed that the fire tenders were stationed away from the spot, four-storeyed Takshila Commercial Complex, located in Sarthana area of Surat city. The distance caused a delay of about 45 minutes for the fire tenders to reach the spot in time.

“The fire spread very quickly because highly inflammable materials, such as flex, were used. The ceiling (of the coaching institute) was just five feet high. Since one cannot sit on a chair in such a room, the owner used tyres instead of chairs for the students,” Singh told reporters at Gandhinagar.

“High-capacity fire tenders took time to reach the spot as they were stationed at a considerable distance, around 45 minutes away. It hampered the fire fighting operation to some extent,” he said.

The municipal corporation has high-capacity fire tenders for dousing fires in multi-storeyed buildings.

Preliminary probe revealed that use of highly inflammable materials and tyres, which doubled up as chairs in the coaching class, caused the fire to spread rapidly, Singh said.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has asked Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Development Department, Mukesh Puri, to conduct a thorough inquiry and submit a report on Monday, he said.

“This incident was a wake-up call for us and we are sorry and sad about it. We are taking all necessary steps to ensure that such incidents do not take place in future,” Singh added.

(With PTI inputs)