SIX PERSONS, including three of a family, were killed and 16 injured in a fire that broke out in a 20-storey residential building in Tardeo area of South Mumbai on Saturday morning.
The building, Sachinam Heights developed by Kamala Group, was part of a chawl redevelopment project and was handed over to the residents in 2015-2016. Till 2015, its residents lived in Gokuldas chawl, next to the building.
Fire department sources said the fire appeared to have started in the electricity duct on the first floor due to a short-circuit, around 7-7.15 am. As the smoke from the duct travelled upward, the top three floors were worst affected.
Chief Fire Officer Hemant Parab of Mumbai Fire Brigade said the building’s fire-fighting system was not working. He did not know when it was last inspected.
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Several residents who were awake and smelt the smoke fled the building, thereby managing to save themselves. The fire brigade rushed 13 fire engines and five ambulances to the spot. The blaze was finally brought under control at 12.20 pm.
“It was a challenging task because we had to conduct fire-fighting and rescue operations on each floor. We rescued 26 people, including five from the 19th floor, where the fire had spread inside a flat,” said AJ Mishra, deputy fire officer.
Five of the six who died have been identified as Meena Mistry (66), her daughter Moushmi Mistry (45) and son Hitesh Mistry (43), Manjuben Kanthariya (75) and Purshottam Chopdekar (45). The sixth is yet to be identified. While the Mistry family and Kanthariya lived on the 19th floor, Chopdekar was on the 16th floor.
While six residents were discharged after treatment for minor injuries, 16 are reported to have been seriously injured and have been admitted to different hospitals.
Kanthariya was living with her youngest son, Kirit, who is still missing. “I spoke to her last night and was supposed to meet her today,” said her older son Vaibhav, who lives in a nearby chawl at Altamount Road.
He said they had not been able to trace his brother yet. “We visited two-three hospitals, but couldn’t find him. We hope he is alive,” he said.
Announcing a probe, the BMC said in a statement: “A committee headed by deputy municipal commissioner (Zone II) will conduct the inquiry into the incident and submit the report within 15 days on the following points: the cause of fire in consultation with chief fire officer, reasons of the spread of fire causing death of 6 people, and if any illegal addition/ alteration in the building beyond approved plans.” The note said the concerned departments were recently told to conduct periodic electrical audits of highrises.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the incident will be investigated and guardian ministers Aaditya Thackeray (Mumbai Suburban) and Aslam Shaikh (Mumbai City) would look into it.
Saddened by the building fire at Tardeo in Mumbai. Condolences to the bereaved families and prayers with the injured for the speedy recovery: PM @narendramodi
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) January 22, 2022
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each for the families of those who died in the fire. The injured will be given Rs 50,000, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Aaditya Thackeray, who visited the spot, said the state government would give Rs 5 lakh each to the families of those who died.
Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis asked the state government to fix accountability for the incident. “It is shocking to know that nearby hospitals refused to admit the patients. If this is true, the government should take harsh action against these hospitals,” he said.
However, speaking to mediapersons later, Aaditya Thackeray said: “There were reports about two hospitals refusing treatment. However, both hospitals informed me that they have admitted and treated some of those injured.”
Meenal Patel, corporator of the area, said: “The entire building has been evacuated and it may take a few days to allow residents to shift back.”
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