The fire system at Mantralaya and the water hydrants in front of the building proved worthless on the day they were needed the most. At around 4.15 pm, when the team of fire fighters comprising of several men, 21 fire engines, 10 fire tankers and other fire fighting vehicles were struggling to douse the fire, a few workers were desperately trying to get water hydrants outside started.
The water hydrant right opposite Mantralaya building, next to the New Administrative Building simply refused to open. At least three workers were trying in vain to unscrew the nut using big tools, before finally seeing no other alternative than to dig half-a-foot deep to get to the water mains.
To add to their despair, the general public and policemen surrounded them, making it difficult for them to work. Finally, the government had to call various other public and private agencies requesting them to send their water tanks. Various agencies like Navi Mumbai municipal corporation, HPCL, port trust and other private agencies sent their engines to tackle the fire, but due to the heavy congestion of vehicles already on site, they faced problems in parking.
On the inside, the Mantralaya officials claimed that an electrical short circuit had taken place, and they had to wait for the fire department to send help. “It was a short circuit and we couldn’t have used the internal fire fighting equipment, as the fire needed to be tackled in a particular way,” said Praveen Pardeshi, secretary, Relief and Rehabilitation department. In all, 4,000 people were evacuated from Mantralaya.