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    Firefighters in Chepauk blaze honoured

    CHENNAI: On the occasion of the 63rd Republic Day, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday honoured the three personnel of Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services Department — Priya Ravichandran, R Murugan and K Anbazhagan — who braved flames at the Chepauk Palace recently, by presenting them the Anna Medals for Gallantry.From this year, the cash award for the medal has been hiked to Rs 1 lakh from Rs 25,000, apart from a certificate.Ravichandran received the medal on behalf of his wife, Priya, Divisional Fire Officer, Chennai Central Division, who is now recuperating at a corporate hospital after being treated for severe burns sustained while dousing the flames that gutted the Chepauk Palace in the wee hours of January 16. Krupavathi, wife of R Murugan, Station Fire Officer, Ashok Nagar Fire Station and Sharmila, daugther of K Anbazhalagan, Leading Fireman, Teynampet Fire Station, who was killed in the fire mishap, also received the medals from the CM.Priya is a directly-recruited Divisional Officer, who joined the department in 2003. She has worked in important places such as Nagapattinam, Coimbatore and Chennai and earned recognition for her skillful work in tackling fires and other exigencies successfully, saving lives and properties of the public. On January 16, fire tenders rushed to Khalas Mahal to put out the fire and Priya being the jurisdictional officer, immediately rushed to the spot and took over the commanding position to supervise the operation.Since it was a heritage building, with the assistance of a team comprising R Murugan, K Anbazhagan and fireman V Prabhakaran, she entered the premises on one side, risking her life to put out the flames. However, the roof of the building collapsed and she was trapped in the debris of burning ceiling materials and wooden beams and sustained injuries. R Murugan is a directly-recruited Station Officer, who joined duty in 2004 and K Anbazhagan joined the service in 1982. Anbalagan was killed on the spot when the roof of the palace collapsed.The Chief Minister also presented Anna medals of Gallantry to S Harish Kumar, a mechanic in Tiruppur district, and S Ravi an employee of a banian company, for their acts of bravery. On February 21, 2011, two masked men had robbed Rs 13.69 lakh from the Apachie Nagar branch of the Canara Bank. Harish Kumar had chased and nabbed one of the robbers. During the chase, one of the robbers inflicted cuts on his left shoulder with a knife. Despite the injury, Harish Kumar continued chasing them and caught one of the robbers with the help of Ravi, an iron master in a banian company.Ravi knocked down the robber with his motorcycle and helped Harish Kumar catch him.