The deceased has been identified as Annamalai and it is said that the fire incident happened around 1.15 am on South Cotton road on Tuesday. However, three others including the wife of the deceased and his two children were rescued. Besides, six two-wheelers and two bicycles were torched. The inmates were asleep when the incident occurred. A television, refrigerator and several household articles were also damaged in the fire, sources said.
Thoothukudi Superintendent of Police S. Jeyakumar said the accused Maria Antony Dinesh Mendis (46) has been arrested.
After inquiring, he said Mendis is a chronic drunkard, who rented one of the houses on the compound owned by the victim. He was often indulged in a drunken brawl with inmates of other houses in the
compound. Angered by his behaviour, Annamalai, the victim, asked Mendis to vacate the house six months ago. As he refused to vacate the house in time, an altercation erupted between them recently.
An irked Mendis, with intent to damage the property, set fire to vehicles parked inside the compound. The fire then spread through stairs gutting Annamalai’s house.
In a swift response, the fire brigades with two water tenders and a quick response vehicle rushed to the spot and launched rescue operations.
The timely intervention of the brigades helped rescue the six-year-old Nithin, Thoothukudi District Fire Officer S. Kumar said.
When the boy (Nithin) screamed for help through the window of the house on the first floor, the firefighters climbed up a ladder and doused water on his body before bringing the fire under control.
Annamalai, who was found lying unconscious with his arm charred, could have died of suffocation. He was taken to the government hospital, where he was declared dead.
Meanwhile, the boy’s mother and girl child sped away to the building’s open terrace.
“Twelve firefighters battled for over an hour to put the fire under control,” Kumar said.
Thoothukudi South police have filed a case under Section 302 of IPC based on a complaint lodged by Ganga Devi, wife of the deceased.