Kalbadevi fire: Debris traps 94-yr-old in her home for 2 days

Entrance to her building was blocked by debris from Gokul Niwas; she had to stay in the dark until yesterday, when it was finally cleared

A 94-year-old woman, despite not being a resident of Gokul Niwas, was affected in a big way by the terrible fire that destroyed it on Saturday. Chanchalben Doshi, a resident of 109-A building opposite Gokul Niwas, got trapped in her first-floor house after mounds of debris from the burnt building blocked the entrance of her building. She spent most of Sunday, Mother’s Day, alone in darkness hoping to see her daughter, and only after the debris was removed on Monday evening did her ordeal come to an end. Her daughter, Champaben Pathak, was then able to meet her, much to her happiness.

Chanchalben Doshi with her daughter Champaben Pathak
Chanchalben Doshi with her daughter Champaben Pathak after the debris (above right) was cleared. Doshi said she kept thinking of her daughter

Doshi said, “I was in my room in complete darkness for two days, just wishing that my daughter meets me soon. Finally, I was able to meet her today (Monday)”.

When the fire broke out in Gokul Niwas, Doshi’s maid Sangeeta Thakur helped her get out of her building, which has four other families living only on the fourth floor, all of whom were reportedly out of town. The rest of the building consists of shops, whose employees pulled down their shutters as the fire in the opposite building grew bigger.

Maid took her back in Thakur said, “When the fire broke out in the neighbouring building, I brought her down safely out of her home. But when the fire seemed to get under control that evening I took her back to her flat. I prepared dinner for her and then left”.

Thakur added, “When I came back the next morning, I was shocked to see that Gokul Niwas had collapsed and that the debris had blocked the building’s entrance. I had got food for her and requested the policemen and firemen to somehow help me in. They were surprised to hear that there was somebody in the building”.

It was only by Sunday afternoon that the police managed to help Thakur into the building. “A policeman held my hand and literally pulled me in the space around the huge pile of debris and we squeezed through a small gap that was left,” she said.

She said the policeman was shocked to see the old lady sitting in her flat in the dark. After serving her food, he and Thakur again managed to get out. They couldn’t, however, get Doshi out the same way because of her old age. “I come here every morning and give her a bath and bring her lunch. I leave in the afternoon and return in the evenings to serve her dinner. This is my daily duty”, said Thakur.

Pathak claims that her mother doesn’t want to move in with her. “I live in Dahisar but my mother wants to stay in this old house only.”

Thakur informed Pathak about the incident only on Monday morning, which is when the latter rushed to the place. It was at 5.30 pm on Monday that the debris in front of the building was cleared and Pathak was finally able to reach her mother.
“I brought with me an emergency lamp since I was aware that there was no power”, added Pathak. The 94-year-old was beaming after meeting her daughter.

Another surprise

Gokul Niwas, which was a commercial building, had two shops, Doshi Sarees on the first floor and Vishal Saree Centre on the second floor. While clearing the debris, saree packets from the shops were found completely wet but the sarees were in good condition thanks to their packaging.

Doshi Sarees

Safe find
A safe was found when the debris was being cleared but its owner hasn’t come forward to claim it. The safe has been kept at the spot by the police so that its true owner can establish his claim.

Safe find

Moved to transit camp
“Of the two families that were living in Gokul Niwas, one which resided on the fourth  floor — Shantaram Mandgaonkar’s — is out of town, while Shivaji Pol’s family, which lived in a loft above the top floor has been given a room in a transit camp in Prabhadevi by MHADA”, said Mahendra Pansare, president of NCP of Colaba region.

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