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A major fire broke out on the second floor of a three-storey commercial building— JK Somani — at Fort around 9:28 pm on Wednesday and it took the fire brigade until 6:44 am on Thursday to bring the fire under control.
While no injuries were reported, the fire is believed to be one of the worst the city has experienced and it took around 20 fire engines and 12 water tankers to douse the blaze. Cooling operations continued till late evening on Thursday.
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“The level five fire (or the brigade call) is only declared in exceptional cases. In the past few years, only two such calls have been given, which include the fires that broke out in Kalbadevi in 2015 and in the Mantralaya in 2012,” said a fire official.
After a call was sent out to the fire brigade, the fire continued to rage and the explosion of around three LPG cylinders caused cracks in the building. “The second and third floors were completely engulfed in the fire and the central part of the building collapsed partially,” said chief fire officer P Rahangdale. The fire is believed to have been caused by a short circuit on the second floor.
According to fire officials, the fire started on the 3000-square-feet second floor and moved on to the third floor spread out an area of over 4000 square feet. Electrical installations, wiring, computers, wooden furniture, compressors of air conditioning units were completely burnt in the fire. During the fire fighting operation, a fireman from Wadala fire station received burn injuries to his right leg and was allowed to go home after he was treated at Nair hospital.
Thirty-five year old lawyer Inderlal Singh Nirmale had recently opened his office in the building on November 26 and fears that important documents may have been damaged. “All the lawyers’ offices are on the first floor and I am anxious to see if the legal documents pertaining to my cases are safe. But despite our requests, the fire brigade is not allowing anyone to enter,” he said.
Officials of A ward office stated that the building is around 50 years old and mainly comprised offices of lawyers and stockbrokers. Though no injuries were reported, the structure of the building has been badly damaged and a lot of documents destroyed in the fire.
Assistant municipal commissioner Kiran Dighavkar said that the building has been sealed and its owner R Somani has been asked to conduct its structural audit.
“The building is structurally unsafe and not fit for human inhabitation. We have asked the owner to conduct a structural audit and take necessary measures to ensure it doesn’t collapse. We have also asked the deputy chief engineer of the Building Proposal department to advise us on whether the building needs to be demolished to avoid any untoward incident,” he said.