At least 14 people were killed and 19 injured when a fire broke out at a rooftop pub hosting a birthday party and spread rapidly through the building inside the Kamala Mill compound in Lower Parel in the early hours of Friday. The fire started after 12:30 am at the ‘One Above’ pub on the terrace and quickly spread to Mojo pub on the third floor, said a BMC official. Most of the victims died of asphyxiation, said Avinash Supe, dean of the KEM hospital where the injured and dead were brought. After preliminary investigations into the cause of the fire, the Mumbai police registered a case of culpable homicide against the owner of One Above.
The two gutted pubs are located in the Trade House Building in Kamala Mills compound in Lower Parel area, a popular night spot as well as commercial hub housing several offices including national television channels. A fire department official said, “The fire spread due to the carpets and wooden floors of some of these places. The fire spread rapidly in the whole building. The satellite antennae of media houses were also destroyed in the incident.” Mumbai Kamala Mills fire LIVE UPDATES
Mumbai Police have booked Hratesh Sanghvi, Jigar Sanghvi and Abhijeet Manka of C Grade Hospitality, which manages the pub, along with others, under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others).
The tragic deaths
Among the dead was Khushbu Bhansali who died an hour after ringing in her 29th birthday with her husband and family members at the One Above lounge and pub. Bhansali’s grandfather Babulal Mehta told The Indian Express, “My granddaughter was in the lounge to celebrate her birthday. Her husband had planned the party and had invited her friends too.” Around 20-25 friends and family members were at her party, out of which two were trapped and lost their lives in the blaze, including Khushbu. “Suddenly there was the sound of a blast, due to which everyone got scared and started running towards the exit. After the place caught fire, Khushbu’s husband Jayesh managed to reach downstairs safely. And Jayesh realised that his wife was missing. He rushed to One Above to check on her, but couldn’t locate her,” added her grandfather.
Kinjal Shah, who was the other member at Khushbu’s party, also lost her life due to suffocation.
Senior police inspector Ahmed Pathan from the NM Joshi Marg police station said, “We have registered an FIR and have started our investigation. We will ascertain the facts of the incident. We are also taking help from the fire department,” adding that the cause of the fire remains unclear.
Meanwhile, two brothers were among the 14 who died. Dhairya Lalani (26) and Vishwa Lalani (23), who were on a holiday in Mumbai from the US, died in the Kamala Mill Compound fire after venturing back into the building to locate their aunt. The three were celebrating with several other friends and were at a table near the entrance of the ‘One Above’ restaurant and pub where the fire is said to have reportedly broken out and spread wildly. Fire officers located their bodies inside the washroom of the pub, along with several other bodies, including that of their aunt Pramila Kenia. Officers said the three had no burn injuries on their bodies and had apparently died of suffocation inside the washroom where several appeared to have huddled. Also Read: Trying to save aunt, two US-based brothers lose their lives
Both brothers had arrived in Mumbai two weeks ago. Having attended a series of weddings in the family over the last few days, on Thursday night, their aunt planned a party for the two at One Above, inviting several of their friends.
CM Fadnavis promises strict action
After the tragedy, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis directed the BMC Commissioner to conduct an in-depth enquiry into the matter and said, “Disturbing to know about the loss of lives in unfortunate Kamala Mills fire incident in Mumbai. My thoughts are with the families who lost their loved ones and prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured. I have directed the BMC Commissioner to conduct an in-depth enquiry.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind, and several others also condoled the incident. “Anguished by the fire in Mumbai. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of grief. I pray that those injured recover quickly,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.
BJP MP Kirit Somaiya said he had asked Fadnavis and the BMC commissioner to order a special fire audit of all such pubs and hooka parlours in Mumbai. “Several such establishments at the Mills compound are illegal, part of which was regularised lately. The place where the blaze took place was illegal,” he claimed.
BMC begins crackdown
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) too began a crackdown on eateries and restaurants in Kamala Mills and nearby areas. Speaking to The Indian Express, Ward officer of G Ward Prashant Sakpale said, “We have parallely started inspection of restaurants in Kamala Mills and Raghuvanshi Mills. In case of violations, we are taking immediate action.” The BMC also suspended five of its officials for gross negligence.
The BMC seems to have demolished parts of the Skyview Cafe, a rooftop restaurant in Oasis City of Kamala Mills, Friday afternoon after an inspection found irregularities. “There were allegations that the restaurant was violating open spaces norms. The inspection was conducted today and the prescribed action was taken,” said Sakpale.
Hema Malini’s bizarre reason for tragedy
The actor-turned-politician linked the fire tragedy with the rising population of Mumbai. “Population is so much, the city is spreading like anything. Some restrictions should be done on the population. Each city should have certain population/limit, after that they should not be allowed. Then let them go to another city,” ANI quoted Hema Malini as saying while responding to the fire tragedy.
Her response came even as police and civic officials of Mumbai blamed the pub owners for the tragedy. According to them, the pub in which the fire broke out did not follow fire safety norms and violated regulations on encroachment with obstructions blocking its emergency exit. In its daily crime report, the police also said the pub’s manager and other staff fled from the spot instead of helping the customers injured in the blaze.