SEVERAL houses were gutted and four persons injured when a major fire erupted in a slum area in Mangalwar Peth on Monday afternoon, the source of which is yet to be ascertained.
According to the fire brigade officials, a massive fire started in the densely-populated Bhimnagar slum area around 1.55 pm. Within minutes, the fire started to spread further, leading to further explosion of LPG cylinders located inside the houses located in the area. Fire brigade officials said the fire was completely brought under control within an hour, but by then, at least 10 gas cylinders had exploded.
According to police, about 25 houses were completely gutted while 30 were severely damaged. Chief Fire Officer Prashant Ranpise said, “The approach road to the slum area is very narrow and there was a barbed wire fence on the other side. But we still managed to take the tenders from where the pipes could reach the affected areas. As the houses in slums had wooden panels and tin sheets, the fire was spreading very fast.”
On how the fire brigade sprung into action, the officials said, the control room received a call at 1.58 pm and the first fire tender reached the spot at 2.06 pm. After the first team reached the spot, additional tenders and tankers were sought looking at the intensity of the fire. The smoke emanating from the fire could be seen from a large radius. The exact cause of fire could not be ascertained by either police or fire brigade till late on Monday.
“The situation could have been worse if more cylinders had exploded. Our men did an exemplary job by taking out as many as 34 gas cylinders from the affected houses. In some of the cases, the gas in these cylinders had already started expanding due to heat. Our staff took out several such cylinders in spite of the risk involved,” said Ranpise.
Several residents of the slum areas alleged that fire brigade tenders reached late. The fire brigade officials, however, denied allegations saying the first tender reached in seven minutes after the call was received. Officials said that it took as many 15 fire tenders and six additional tankers from various fire stations to completely douse the fire. Four residents, who were injured in the incident, were rushed to a nearby hospital and were said to be out of danger.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Kishor Naik said, “Investigation is on to find the exact cause of fire. The people who have lost their homes have been provided with shelter at a nearby school.” Police officials stated there could have been a short circuit, or an accidental spark in a house or scrap warehouse could have led to fire but the exact cause is yet to be ascertained.
Local corporator Ajay Tayade of the MNS said that the fire has made over 100 residents homeless. “We are providing necessary material for repair of the huts that were affected due to the fire,” he said, adding, the civic administration has been urged to work on possible financial assistance to the affected slum population. Additional municipal commissioner Rajendra Jagtap along with other civic officers visited the site of the fire. He directed the ward office to provide all possible help to the affected people.