Fifty-six hours after it broke out, one of the biggest fires in the city this year that had been raging since Thursday night at City Centre mall in south Mumbai was extinguished on Sunday morning. The fire at the mall was doused at 5.08 am on Sunday.
The fire-fighting operation, however, was yet to be called off on Sunday as the cooling operations were in progress. A fire brigade official said that most of the shops were closed with shutters down which restricted their access to individual shops to check for isolated flares, even after the fire was brought under control on Saturday.
“There are around 400 shops on every floor. It was a glass façade building and fire flames were falling from the ceiling, owing to which we were unable to move without restrictions within the mall, to douse the blaze. Initially, we continued with fire-fighting from outside the mall. However, the fire was spreading through the shops as all stored inflammable material,” said a Mumbai Fire Brigade official.
The fire-fighting operation was also hampered owing to reduced visibility due to the billowing smoke. Firemen had to break open the windows of the mall to gain access to the second-floor shops. However, initially, firemen could not directly access the shop where the fire erupted.
According to the preliminary investigation, the fire brigade found that water sprinklers were installed in the mall. However, it is unclear if the fire-fighting equipment was adequate and functional at the time the fire broke out.
The authorities said due to the presence of highly combustible materials, especially lithium batteries inside shops almost matching up to materials stored inside a warehouse, the cooling operations will also take time to conclude. The mall houses over 1,000 small electronic and mobile shops, popular for selling low cost and wholesale goods.
Since Thursday night, over 250 firefighters and 254 fire engines and tankers were deployed till 9 am on Sunday to contain the blaze.
The fire had broken out at a mobile/electronic shop on the second floor of the four-storey mall at 8.53 pm on Thursday. In the fire-fighting operation, five firemen and a deputy fire officer were injured.
This is the second big fire that broke in the city and in south Mumbai this year. A blaze at a cutlery market in Masjid Bunder earlier this year took almost 45 hours to be extinguished.
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