A senior consulting doctor at the Breach Candy Hospital, his wife and their domestic help were rescued from their burning home in Malabar Hill locality by police on Thursday morning. The couple had been knocked unconscious due to the smoke by the time the police entered the house. Their dog, Hutch, was killed in the blaze.
According to the police, fire broke out in Dilkhush building, opposite Malabar Hill police station, around 4 am on Thursday, on the ground floor apartment owned by orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Kekoo Kavarana. Dr Kavarana lives in the house with his wife Firoza, son Kairus, daughter-in-law Sunaina and their domestic help Julie.
Police constable Sushant Jadhav, who was standing at the entrance of the police station, first spotted fumes emerging from the building and alerted sub-inspector Pradeep Devkar and assistant police inspector Suresh Chorat. All three rushed towards the house, without the necessary safety gear, while others in the police station called the fire brigade.
The men arrived at the scene to find that Sunaina and Kairus had managed to escape the house, but were unable to return to save his parents.
Bhaskar Sawant, senior inspector, Malabar Hill police station, said the men spotted Firoza lying on the floor of the living room but found it difficult to enter the apartment, as it was filled with smoke. Devkar then wrapped a handkerchief around his face and using the torch of his cell phone, walked through the heavy smoke to pull Firoza out.
Meanwhile, the police shouted at residents of the upper floors to take shelter on the terrace, even as Devkar, Jadhav and Chorat tried to switch off the gas connection in the house.
“The smoke was very dense and I could only feel my way to the kitchen. There, I saw an elderly man passed out on the floor. We carried him out before returning to shut off the gas connection,” said Devkar. The police then rescued Julie and four other residents of the building, who had fled to the terrace. Sawant said those on the terrace were able to exit the building two hours later, after the fire brigade extinguished the blaze and the structure cooled down.
The couple was rushed to Breach Candy Hospital. While Dr. Kavarana (76) is reported to be in a serious condition as he inhaled smoke, the police said that Firoza (69) is stable.Devkar added that Dr. Kavarana had either gone to the kitchen to shut down the gas pipelines or to find Julie. “The help told us that her room is through a door in the kitchen. Dr. Kavarana may have gone to the kitchen to alert her to the fire, but was engulfed by the smoke,” he said.
The police later found the body of the family’s pug, Hutch, in the bathroom. “It is possible that the dog could not sense its way out in the thick smoke and went inside the bathroom to escape the fumes. It died of suffocation,” said a senior police officer.
Mumbai police spokesperson, deputy commissioner of police (operations) Rashmi Karandikar, said that the fire broke out due to a short circuit. The exact cause of the blaze was being ascertained by the fire brigade.
The Breach Candy hospital administration was unavailable for comment.