Residents of a 21-storey building located on the eastern side of Mumbai Central railway station had a close shave after a fire broke out inside the tower at 11.30 am.
A family, which managed to escape unhurt from the building, tries to come to terms with the tragedy. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
A total of 14 people were injured in the mishap. While eight were rushed to Jagjivan Ram Railway Hospital, the remaining six were admitted to Nair Hospital. About 12 fire engines, and five water tankers, were pressed into action to control the fire and rescue more than 65 residents of the building, which houses railway employees.
The second floor shaft in the west wing of the building. where the fire started due to the alleged short circuit
Firefighters claimed that the fire started inside the west wing shaft of the building on the second floor after the dry garbage caught fire, and reached all the way up to the 15th floor. Those residing on the second floor claimed that the fire started following a short circuit, which set the garbage ablaze.
‘We reached ASAP’
Reacting to allegations that they took around 45 minutes to reach the spot, Deputy Chief Fire officer Prabhat Rahangdale claimed that firemen reached the building as soon as possible and brought the situation under control.
“We reached the spot immediately and initiated the rescue operation. Around eight people were bought down with the help of a hydraulic ladder, while the rest were rescued using the stairs. Since most of them had taken shelter on the higher floors, it took us a while to rescue them. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured,” said Rahangdale.
Initially, four fire engines were despatched to the spot after the fire officials thought that it was a Grade-1 fire. However, upon realising that it was Grade-2 fire, eight more engines were rushed along with five water tankers. The fire was doused by 2.30pm.
A doctor from Jagjivan Ram Railway Hospital confirmed that the injured admitted to the hospital had sustained Level 1 burn injuries. “While three patients were admitted to the medicine ward, the other five were moved to the surgical ward,” the doctor said.
Dr Ramesh Bharmal, dean, Nair Hospital, said the injured admitted to the medical facility mainly complained of respiratory issues, “Exposure to the smoke has temporarily affected their respiratory system, so we have kept them under observation.
Three people who sustained minor burn injuries to their palms and arms were admitted to the surgical ward. All the patients are stable,” said Bharmal.
‘Ascertaining the cause’
Commenting on the issue, Central Railway CPRO Sharat Chandrayan said they were yet to find out the exact cause ofthe fire. “Our team, along with the firefighters, is still working to find out the real reason behind the fire.
What we can confirm for now is that it started on the second floor. We will conduct an inquiry into the matter and ensure that no such incident occurs in the future,” Chandrayan said.
Acts of valour
Narrating his ordeal, Gaurav Kamble said the panic-stricken residents started running towards the higher floors after noticing the fire. Kamble, a resident of the 10th floor, injured his palms and an elbow in the mishap.
“Smoke had engulfed the staircase and started to suffocate people. I broke one of the windowpanes to let out the smoke so that we could breathe. In the process, I injured my elbow. But the tactic worked and saved us from getting choked to death,” said Kamble.
Sushil Kasare, who burnt both his hands in the mishap, said he even considered jumping from the fourth floor to save himself from the blaze and the smoke. He too exhibited presence of mind and broke a windowpane for the smoke to exit. “The heat was unbearable. All of us considered jumping from the fourth floor. We thought it was better to lose our limbs rather than our lives,” Kasare said.
A resident of the third floor, Gautam Jadhav decided to inform others so that they could rush to the floors above for safety. “We took the lift, so that we could inform the others about the fire. But it got stuck due to power failure. We had to force open the lift to save ourselves,” said Jadhav.