JVPD building fire: Labourers were packed in 6x10 feet box structures

Residents of the area say they heard an explosion and saw flames engulf the under-construction Prarthana building

The Mumbai Fire Brigade and the police seen carrying out rescue operations after a fire broke out at the under-construction site in Vile Parle late last night. Pics/ Sneha Kharabe

Residents of Kaifi Azmi Park near Vile Parle (West), especially those who lived around the under-construction Prarthana building, were woken up last night with a loud explosion. Ritika Thapar, who lives in the neighbouring Green Acres, rushed to the window.

Fire brigade officers and the cops negotiate wooden and metal debris last night

Thapar said, "10 pm, I heard a loud sound. I saw huge flames leaping out from the building next door where the labourers were living. They were screaming and running helter skelter. A few had managed to run to the upper floors, while a some were seen running to the building gate."

Injured Sheetal Mallana and Kirti in hospital. Pics/ Sneha Kharabe

Eyewitnesses say that the building contractor had built half a dozen 6x10ft temporary box-like structures topped by iron sheets for the labourers working at the site. Four to five labourers were packed in each room, and many of them would cook inside. It was under these structures that wooden material and scrap was dumped.

Shankar Tamanna with wife Sunita

"On Tuesday, when one of the families was cooking, their LPG cylinder exploded due to leakage. Six pe-ople [probably belonging to a family] got tra-pped in the flames and we-re charred to death," said Sunil Ghosalkar, senior inspector of Juhu police station. Around 18 people have sustained burns in the accident. While 12 were admitted to the nearby Cooper Hospital, the others were allowed to go home after receiving first aid.

All the deceased lived in the lower structure and were trapped when the upper structure collapsed on them.

Charred remains of the spot, where the labourers resided in 6x10ft temporary box-like wooden structures that were topped by iron sheets

The Juhu police are expected to take the help of the other labourers and their families to identify the dead.

The injured labourers with their kin at Cooper Hospital

Shankar Tamanna, 35, from West Bengal, a labourer who escaped the fire, said it was probably because he did not sleep early last night that he is alive. "I ate dinner early, but was unable to sleep. Just minutes before I decided to go to sleep, the cylinder exploded in the lower room. The explosion was so huge that everything in my room shook as if there was an earthquake. I panicked, but managed to jump down safely and run towards the building gate and escaped unhurt. If I had gone to sleep, I might have been dead."

Illustration/Ravi Jadhav

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