In the hours before dawn on Friday, a part of Nayanagar slum in Mahim, close to the Dharavi-Sion Link Road, was transformed into a raging inferno, after a fire broke out in one of the hutments. It briskly burned through a huddle of 50 huts, scorching six people to death, severely injuring eight others and leaving hundreds homeless. The deceased were taken to Sion Hospital while the injured were rushed to Bhabha Hospital. According to fire brigade officials, the fire broke out at 4 am.
The locals woke up with a shock to see the flames lapping up their neighbourhood. By 9.25 am, after a five-hour struggle by 10 fire engines, eight tankers and several firefighters, the blaze was brought under control, but only after it had gutted several lives and houses. A fire brigade official, on condition of anonymity, disclosed that out of the six deceased, four were charred so horribly that they could not be identified by the locals. It has been understood through reliable sources that they belonged to the same family.
Preliminary reports show that the fire broke out in one of the hutments and rapidly spread crossways, destroying tens of dwellings in no time. Deputy Chief Fire Officer Shashikant Kale said, “The cause of the fire is still unknown. Investigations are on. We were able to rescue many of the hutments caught in the flare but six people lost their lives.”
Mayor Sunil Prabhu visited the site at noon and took stock of the situation. He stated that the land encroached by the slum belonged to the collector and the unauthorised ground+3-storey structures came up after 1995. “I have informed the BMC to check how this encroachment on collector’s land came up after 1995. I don’t know if the government would give any compensation to the families of the deceased,” said Prabhu, and expressed his shock and grief over the incident.