Fire scares Vashi residents into action

After a fire gutted a garment shop in Sector 9, residents and shopkeepers have raised concerns about illegal hawkers who pose a fire hazard

With the fire at Kinara City, Kurla, in which eight people lost their lives, Mumbai and its residents have woken up to the need to be aware of fire safety norms in their residential and commercial structures.

Also read: Major fire breaks out at Navi Mumbai paint factory

Residents and local shopkeepers say they have complained to the authorities often, but no serious action has been taken against the encroaching hawkers
Residents and local shopkeepers say they have complained to the authorities often, but no serious action has been taken against the encroaching hawkers

The issue was brought home in Navi Mumbai on Tuesday when a small garment shop in Mini Market of Sector 9, Diya Collections, caught fire at 11.30 pm (officials are still investigating the reason) and got gutted even though fire engines reached within a minute.

The reason: stalls which have encroached the lane that leads to the market, reduced the width of the lane, making it difficult for fire officials to rush to the spot. While no one was hurt, the incident has alarmed locals and shopkeepers.

“I have been running a jewellery shop here for years. In the last five years, illegal hawkers have been encroaching the footpath and have now started spilling over on to the streets. Now, only one vehicle can pass through the lanes at a time,” said Kamleshbhai.

Fire officials are concerned too. An official from the Vashi fire station said that when they are unable to get past makeshift stalls, they park the vehicle away from the site of fire. “But, this lack of access is dangerous in terms of safety as fire spreads rapidly in cluttered spaces,” he added.

Also read: Eight killed in cylinder blast at Mumbai hotel; 5 students missing

Subhash Ingale, head of encroachment department at NMMC, said, “We take action against illegal hawkers regularly. There are lots of things to be considered while shifting hawkers. We are trying to finalise the implementation of the hawkers policy, which will allow the stall owners to shift to a dedicated market place or a plot.”

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