IT TOOK more than 94 lakh litres of water from the BMC’s supply to completely extinguish the fire that broke out in the Metro House in Colaba on Thursday. This resulted in a shortage of water supply to four zones in A ward. The fire started at around 4 pm on Thursday and was completely extinguished only by 12:15 pm the next day.
Though no injury was reported, an interruption in the supply of water to the hydrants escalated the fire to the other floors of the building.
Civic officials said that the water supply to the fire hydrants was interrupted for close to half an hour due to a disagreement between the fire brigade and the hydraulic engineering department. The delay in restarting the water supply aggravated the fire and led to the collapse of the wooden staircase, connecting the third and fourth floors of the building.
Officials in the water department said owing to the shortage of water in the BMC’s supply, the fire engines were expected to use water from tanker filling points.
Fire department officials, however, said the tanker filling points were near Azad Maidan and they were delayed because of heavy traffic, which in turn delayed the firefighting operations. A total of 18 fire engines and 11 water tankers, carrying at least 2.37 lakh litres of water, were sent to the spot and the water department supplied 92 lakh litres of water.
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The city has been reeling under a water crisis for the past year and facing a 16 per cent water cut. After the fire, the hydraulic engineering department reduced the water supply to four zones to compensate for the water used for firefighting. “The four zones, including Fort Backbay, Pedder road, Navy Nagar and Tardeo, experienced a shortage of water. However, the water loss has been balanced and there will be no further shortage from today (Saturday) onwards,” said a civic official.
Meanwhile, the building, which houses the popular Cafe Mondegar, has been sealed shut and will be out of bounds for at least a couple of weeks. The hawkers selling wares around the Metro House have also been removed until further notice.
While the land is owned by the Mumbai Port Trust, the part residential and part commercial building is a cess building under the MHADA’s authority. “The MHADA as well as the BMC will issue notices to the owner and the architect of the building asking them to conduct a structural audit at the earliest. After examining the report, we will decide if there is a need to repair the building or demolish it. Until then, the building will remain closed,” said Dilip Garje, an executive engineer of MHADA.