Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has appealed to eyewitnesses and victims’ relatives, among others, to come forward and assist the civic body in its investigation into the Kamala Mills compound fire that killed 14 people and injured 54 others on December 29. He has requested them to submit to the BMC any piece of information in the form of statements, videos or pictures relevant to the mishap.
Apart from issuing a circular to officials of all 24 wards in the city, the civic body has also published a public notice in newspapers on behalf of Mehta, urging people to come forward with information.
“The municipal commissioner is conducting an inquiry into the December 29 incident. In order to assist the inquiry proceedings, it would be necessary to take evidence, put on record any other relevant material and record direct evidence. Witnesses to the fire incident, relatives of the deceased, persons injured in the fire incident, people working in the area or anyone related to this fire incident can share any information, photos or videos with the BMC,” the notice read.
People have been asked to either submit their oral statements in person or upload photos, videos or any other relevant information on firstname.lastname@example.org on January 8 from 2.30 pm onwards.
The appeal comes at a time when investigators are probing whether the fire could have been caused due to a bartender’s fire stunt at either 1Above or Mojo’s Bistro, or due to the burning coal used in hookahs. The civic body is also looking to put on record all accounts of what happened on December 29, leading to the major blaze.
“Peoples’ accounts about what happened that day can help us piece together the incident and take the inquiry forward. It can play a vital role in the investigation,” said a senior BMC official.
On Tuesday, Mehta visited the site of the incident for the second time since the fire took place. “The first time I visited the site was on December 29, when the fire fighting was going on. This time, however, my visit was as part of the investigation to check out the location, topography and so on, and to get an idea about the place where the mishap occurred even if it has all been charred. We are now awaiting responses of eyewitnesses, apart from the reports of the fire brigade,” Mehta said.
The team which visited the spot of the fire at the Kamala Mills compound on Tuesday blamed the mishap on the allegedly shoddy rooftop extension done by the restaurant. The team has also ruled out short circuit as the cause of the fire. However, they are awaiting the fire brigade’s preliminary report before coming to a conclusion.