A seven-storey building in Vikhroli (W) caught a freak blaze around 2.30 am yesterday, after sparks in the electric cabin on the ground floor travelled up the wiring attached to a pillar, rising all the way till the top floor, and blasted into a full-fledged blaze.
The tragedy struck Kailash Complex, a slum rehabilitation structure in Siddhartha Nagar in the central suburb. An explosion followed soon after the flames lapped up the seventh floor. The building burned for an hour and a half, before fire officials came to the spot and got started with rescue operations. The building is located on a hill and fire brigades took a while travelling up. Moreover, fire officials did not have water hoses big enough to extinguish the flames on the seventh floor, which caused further delays in the rescue operation.
Of the 80 people residing in the building, a family of four residing on the seventh floor succumbed to smoke inhalation and burns. Gautam Shigvan (55), Purnima (50), Vishal (25) and Ayush Shardul (5) were trapped in their room in the conflagration. The Shigvans’ house was contiguous to the pillar which had the cable wires attached to it. They were declared dead on arrival at Rajawadi Hospital in the neighbouring suburb of Ghatkopar.
Residents said that while there were 11 rooms on each floor, those adjacent to the pillar that ran from the ground up were the worst hit. The fire broke out in full fury after travelling to the fifth, sixth and seventh floors, and partially affected the middle floors.
A family on the sixth floor were left to fend for themselves when they realised that their main door had caught fire. Baburav Hirade and his wife Rekha, who have three children, poured buckets of water on the door and managed to douse the flames and save their flat before the fire brigade arrived.
Eleven others suffered burns. “The four patients in our hospital have got around 10 per cent burns and will recuperate in a few weeks after the treatment,” said Dr Anil Kumar Chopde of Rajawadi Hospital. One other, who sustained severe burns, was shifted to Kasturba Hospital’s burns unit for further treatment.
The injured recuperating at Rajawadi are Vikas Sigvan (26), Gunaji Yadav (67), Siddhesh Patkar (23) and Rahul Ingle (3). Five of another family ended up in the medical intensive care unit (MICU) of the civic-run Sion Hospital, after excess smoke inhalation that almost suffocated them. Doctors said that their condition was stable but critical and they would require another 12 hours of observation in the MICU.
The patients include Subash Gavai (46), wife Rekha (37) and their three children, Siddharth (21), Nirvan (19) and Prata (18). A relative, Rameshwar Gavai, said that the entire house was destroyed in the fire, as they lived on the sixth floor. One Balkrishna Amboli (45) is also admitted at Sion Hospital.
Dr Avinash Supe, dean, Sion Hospital, said, “We have added extra beds for the other patients in the MICU and have put them on oxygen support. Their carbon dioxide levels are still low and they also have to recover from the suffocation injuries in their respiratory tract.”
3 men raise the alarm, save the day
While fire officials were struggling to get their stepladders and tenders to the building, three young men risked their lives and alerted the neighbours about the fire. Sandesh Niawadkar (28), Sanket Jadhav (22) and Yogesh Kadam (23) managed to evacuate everyone residing on and below the fourth floor. “I live in a neighbouring building and was awake when I noticed that Kailash Complex had caught fire. I rushed to the spot and, along with the other two, started knocking on doors to caution everybody to leave. By then, the top three floors had caught fire,” Sandesh said. The other two reside in the gutted building. The trio also helped rush victims to hospital.
Book builder for negligence: residents
Relatives of the injured shouted slogans against the builder of Kailash Complex, D K Patel, on Monday afternoon. They demanded that an FIR be filed against him. They said that there had been three instances in the past when sparks were noticed in the electric cabin of the building that caught fire. “We had then called up the company that supplies electricity to us and got the burnt wires replaced but, clearly, that did not help,” said Vipul Patekar, a resident of Kailash Complex. “We want justice. The builder should be booked for his negligence which has ruined so many lives,” he added.
Man climbs down pipe
A man residing on the sixth floor, Kailash Ambhore, scripted a narrow escape after climbing down the toilet pipeline as the fire lay siege to his room. Ambhore, a construction worker, was home alone at the time. He slithered through a narrow opening between the window grill and the wall, clambering all the way down to safety. His wife Sunita said, “I was at my mother’s place with our two children when the fire broke out. All our belongings have turned to ash. We’re glad he escaped from the flames, but we have lost everything in the fire.”