A 10-year-old girl who had gone to a church with her family on Christmas suffered burn injuries after her dress caught fire from a candle while she was clicking selfies, police said.
Two police personnel on duty at the church in south Kolkata’s Kasba doused the fire with water. The girl is being treated at a hospital.
The cops suffered minor burns on their hands while saving the girl.
The child was playing with her friends in the church compound at Naskarhat in Kasba around noon on Sunday when the incident happened.
A police officer at Kasba police station said the children were playing and running around and their guardians were inside the church when the girl started to scream for help.
She was reportedly taking selfies with a candle stand in the background when her dress caught fire, the police and church officials said. Whether she was taking selfies could not be corroborated by this newspaper with her parents as they were traumatised after the accident.
The police said other children initially could not spot the flames and did not raise the alarm.
“Initially, we too did not realise that she was screaming for help as others were running around, shouting and playing. Then we heard the voice of the girl, rushed towards her and found that her dress had caught fire,” said the officer.
A sub-inspector and a civic volunteer had been deployed at the church on Christmas duty.
The officer tried to tear away the portion of the frock that caught fire while the other person ran for water. The fire was doused and the child was taken to Maniktala ESI hospital.
“She has suffered burns on her right thigh and her hand as she tried to fight the fire. Today, she has been able to sit up and have solid food,” a family member said on Monday afternoon. The family lives near EM Bypass, not far from the church.
“The child has suffered from 20 per cent burn injuries. She is doing well now. But in the case of burn patients, the first 72 hours are critical. She is under observation,” said a doctor at the Maniktala ESI Hospital.
The doctor added that a high-protein diet has been advised for the patient.
Church of Our Lady of Vailankanni is a 15-year-old Catholic church. Father Orson Wells, the priest in charge of the church, said: “We have barricaded the place where the candles were burning. The entry of visitors to the church is as usual.”
When the accident happened, service was going on inside. The church staff splashed water on the little girl but she “got scared” and started running, said a church official.