Kostenlos abonnieren

Werden Sie regelmäßig per E-Mail über neue Ausgaben der campuls informiert. Sie können Ihr kostenloses Abo jederzeit einfach online über den Abmeldelink im Newsletter kündigen.

Weitere Infos zu Datenschutz & Widerrufsrecht finden Sie hier.

Fire victims: Rapid help from university, sponsoring society and “Grandma Ilse”

It was one of the biggest fires in the region in recent years: On August 8, 2022, a total of 60 people had to be evacuated in the area of Marienstraße and Bachstraße in Hof, as several houses and parts of buildings went up in flames. A total of 7 people were injured and millions of euros worth of damage was caused. Two students of the Hof University of Applied Sciences were also directly affected by the disaster.

Total destruction: hardly anything was left of many personal belongings after the fire on August 8; photo: private;

It was a beautiful and calm summer day when Pratikkumar Parmar and Vaishnav Mayil Valappil, students of the Hof University of Applied Sciences, were in their recently occupied apartments in the Marienstraße in Hof. But within seconds, everything was about to change for both of them.

Quick escape from the apartments

“It must have been around 3:30 p.m. when I noticed noises on the first floor of the house. I looked out of the window and could hardly believe my eyes: large flames were shooting upwards along the wall of the house. I quickly tried to warn some neighbors and fled outside,” says Pratikkumar Parmar, who is studying Sustainable Water Management and Engineering (M.Eng.) in Hof. Vaishnav Mayil Valappil, who had been living in Hof for just a week at the time and will start his Operational Excellence studies in the winter semester of 2022, had a similar experience

I noticed that something smelled strong. When I left my room, there was also thick smoke coming from the back of the building. I immediately grabbed my wallet and laptop and ran out of the building.”

Vaishnav Mayil Valappil

Outside, the first rescue workers then arrived and provided the shocked residents with care – including psychological care. On a positive note alone, unlike four other residents, the students were unharmed by the fire.

Unbureaucratic help

Later in the day, some parts of the affected houses burned out. But even what did not fall prey to the flames was so badly destroyed by extinguishing water that a return to the apartments became unthinkable for the time being. The affected people were thus on the street from one hour to the next. In the aftermath of the fire, both are surprised that initially no sirens were heard: “Only when the fire department and other rescue vehicles arrived, warning sounds were also heard.”

Escaped with the horror: Pratikkumar Parmar; Image: private;

But at least the governmental help worked quickly and unbureaucratically in this case: For the first night, Pratikkumar and Vaishnav were taken to a shelter provided by the German authorities. After that, friends quickly came to the students’ side: “I told some fellow students from my degree program about what had happened. They immediately invited me to dinner and organized further overnight accommodations for me. I am very grateful for that,” says Pratikkumar Parmar, who has since found a new apartment and is currently moving into it.

Support from the university and the sponsoring society

And support also came from the university in difficult times: “Hof University of Applied Sciences lent us a laptop free of charge and the Fördergesellschaft donated 500 EUR each to compensate for a small part of the damage,” reports Vaishnav. “We would especially like to thank Borbála Thurnay from the university’s Housing Office, who provided us with advice and support and remained in constant contact with us. In addition, the Society of Friends and Supporters of Hof University also made a donation to us, for which we would like to express our sincere thanks,” the two fire victims said in unison. In general, both report a great willingness to help, also from the Hof population. Pratikkumar Parmar, however, can tell of a very special incident:

“Grandma Ilse” as a saving angel

“Because I bought a used sofa from her for my now burned-down apartment at the beginning of the summer semester, I came into contact with a German named Ilse Innmann. Because I didn’t have a car myself, she delivered the sofa to me herself, which was really nice of her. But when she heard about the fire, she called me and asked me if I was okay. Just the fact that she remembered me surprised me. I informed her about my situation and she immediately helped me to organize the most necessary things within a very short time. Then one of her neighbors even gave me a tablet and she herself helped me find part-time jobs,” Pratikkumar says happily. “Now I was no longer a stranger to her in this country, and neither was Ilse to me. We’ve had a very emotional relationship ever since, and I’ve only called her Grandma Ilse ever since.” And further

The fire has taken many things from me, but it has given me good people!”

Pratikkumar Parmar

A collapsed roof and charred living quarters from which little could be salvaged; photo: private;

Despite all the help, it was still a shock and a very difficult time for the two young men – after all, they had only been in the city for a few days and months respectively: “The fire didn’t hurt me physically, but it has already left me with a mental trauma that I first have to overcome,” admits Pratikkumar. He is currently preparing for the new winter semester and is looking for a job to earn some extra money while he studies.

Rainer Krauß

Weitere Themen