Zen Sadavarte, a 15-year-old Class 10 student, emerged a hero in the fire that broke out in a residential high-rise in Mumbai on Wednesday morning, saving over a dozen lives by taking charge and giving them simple instructions amid the chaos.
Zen, who along with her parents and others, had been in the Crystal Towers building in Mumbai's Parel area when the fire broke out at approximately 8:30 am, told her parents and neighbours to remain calm and shield themselves from the smoke and fire using wet clothes. As a result, they were able to withstand the smoke long enough to be extricated by the fire department's cranes.
Speaking to Republic TV, Zen credited her school teacher who had told her that in the event of a fire, it is essential to remain calm and to use wet clothes. Zen narrated the events of the morning:
"I saw a lot of smoke was emerging. The smoke began entering the house. My teacher had taught me to be calm. She'd also told me to use cotton clothes, to which I added water. This purified the carbon being emitted. Then, to avoid suffocation, one has to duck down", Zen said.
Speaking about who all she advised, Zen listed: "My family, my neighbours -- three families -- it was a time of panic, but we made it. I told both of my neighbours to shut their electricity and to stay calm."
Zen, however, remained adamant that she hadn't saved anyone's life, and that they had helped themselves by following her initiative:
"I didn't save anyone's life. I told them what to do. It was their initiative that led to their lives being saved. Around 16-17 people."
Zen and her mother had been among the first to be evacuated, with a hydraulic crane being deployed to access the very top of the building where people in need of rescue were clearly visible from the road below. Unfortunately, despite a number of people being saved due to the efforts and initiative of residents like Zed as well as the fire-fighters who were quick on the scene, 4 lives were lost and 20 are injured, including 4 fire brigade personnel.