Manish Market, a wholesale market near the Crawford market area in south Mumbai, seemed to jinxed. Within months of re-opening its doors after being gutted on November 26, 2011, another major fire broke out at the market on Monday evening at around 4.30 pm.
The blaze started on the first floor of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST), Palton road, sub-station. While local shopkeepers and a senior fire official have alleged that fire started on the floor that had been illegally leased by BEST officials to shopkeepers who stored their goods. The BEST spokesperson though claimed that it was actually an old vacant office of street lights department.
It took over two hours for the fire brigade to bring the fire under control and no casualties were reported.
Manish Market being a hub of wholesale dealers is crowded with all around the year. But, the upcoming Ganesh festival on September 19, means the the narrow lanes at the market are all the more congested with people. These narrow lanes added to the problem of fighting the blazewith the fire tenders unable to enter the lane to reach the fire.
Officials from the police and fire department also had a tough time trying to control the crowd that had gathered to watch the firemen in action.
Over 15 fire engines and 10 water tankers were at the spot trying to douse the fire that had spread quickly to the second floor. The fire was brought under control around 6.30 pm but the fire officials continued with their cooling operations until late night.
A senior fire official said, “We have received information that the above floor had been illegally provided on lease by BEST and we are investigating the matter.”
Manoj Varade, spokesperson BEST, said, “There was no problem with the sub station or the transformer. Our chief engineers and other officials are at the spot inspecting the matter. More information can be provided only after a detailed report is released.” He added, “The floor above the sub station was actually an old office used by the street lights department. This office has been vacant for a long time now.”
Deputy Chief Fire Officer, PS Randhale said, “We are still investigating the cause of the fire and the transformer in the sub station was not affected by the fire. The fire was on the top floor and the attic space of the sub station.”
The massive fire on November 26, 2011 had engulfed the prominent commercial hub here, leaving three firemen injured and gutting more than 2000 shops. At the time, it had been reported that Manish Market did not have the mandatory underground water tank.
One of the reasons given for the blaze spreading rapidly was the nature of goods sold in the market. The shopping enclave mostly houses showrooms of electronic goods, perfumes and clothes, among others.