Fire brigade, Navy and Coast Guard personnel are fighting a grim battle to rescue firemen trapped on the terrace of a 22-storey commercial building blazing up in a western Mumbai suburb where two helicopters have been pressed into service to evacuate them.
A Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) official said that around 15-20 fire fighters were stuck on the terrace of Lotus Business Park on Andheri Link road.
Dramatic video footages showed Navy and and Coast Guard helicopters lowering ropes on the rooftop to help the stranded firemen clamber up to safety from their perilous perch.
An unspecified number of fire fighters have so far been rescued after showers reduced the intensity of the blaze that forced them to cling precariously to railings and scaffoldings of the glass-facade tower, raising fears about their safety.
The choppers were rushed to the rescue of stranded firemen after gusty winds fanned the fire making their evacuation impossible by any other means.
According to fire brigade officials, 22 fire engines, 10 water tankers and 6 jetties have been deployed to quell the blaze.
“We have also requested the Thane Municipal Corporation and the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation and others to provide additional fire engines to help us bring the fire under control,” the officer said.
“We had initially categorised the fire at Grade 2 and sent 12 fire engines to the spot. The strong winds at the top further aggravated the intensity of the flames and we have now further upgraded the fire to the top notch,” the official said.
According to officials, the blaze started on the 21st floor of the building around 11:30 am and soon spread to the 20th floor.
There were no reports of any civilian casualties yet as people working in the offices were quickly evacuated by the fire brigade.
“We got a request from the fire brigade to provide aerial help to the firemen who have been stuck on the 22 storey commercial building. The Indian Navy has deployed a Seeking Charlie helicopter and the Coastguard a Chetak to rescue them,” a Navy spokesperson told PTI.
DDC vice-chairperson Ashish Khetan said, “As of today he does not hold the charge anymore.”