Make In India blaze: Wooden stage, nylon curtains, ornamental fireworks fed fire
Although there is much speculation about what could have caused the fire at Girgaum Chowpatty, several factors that led to its spread have emerged. These include the wooden stage, nylon curtains, thermocol as well as the ornamental fireworks (anar — fountain) used as part of the performances. An 800-litre diesel tank of one of the cranes used for the lights also exploded but fortunately that of another did not. Other factors such as generator vans, diesel-run vanity vans, could have made matters worse, but for the presence of mind of the onlookers and authorities, who moved them.
A man looks at one of the two cranes that were burnt. The 800-litre diesel tank of one exploded. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The second day of Make in India week, Sunday, was marred by the fire, which broke out during the Maharashtra Night celebrations. The fire broke out underneath the stage and the evening wind fuelled it. While some onlookers believe it was caused due to the ornamental fireworks used during the performance, others believe it happened due to a short circuit underneath the stage. Although the cause is still being probed, the items on or near the stage fanned the flames. These include the wooden stage itself, the thermocol props and decorative pieces, the nylon curtains, the electric wiring, four LCD screens, etc.
The worst-hit were the contractors who had supplied material for the gala. They suffered heavy losses to the tune of lakhs since much of their material was burnt. Among them is Syed Akbar Hussain, the owner of Super Crane Services. He had rented out around 8 cranes for the event, which were used for lights. Two of the cranes right behind the stage have been completely gutted. Both had a diesel tank, each with a capacity of around 800 litres. “One tank burst while the other did not. I have suffered tremendous losses. Besides, now moving the cranes from here is going to be a task. It will take about two days,” Hussain said. One such crane costs around Rs 80 lakh.
“Me and my men have been working here for about a fortnight now. We provided the wooden barricades, railings for it. Who would have thought such a thing would happen?” said another contractor who did not wish to be named.
“There was a separate area for releasing the bigger fireworks in the air. Initially, there was an area demarcated right next to the stage for it, but after state government officials objected to it, the organisers moved it behind. These firecrackers were supposed to be used later in the show but they were never used. Thankfully, the fire did not reach that spot. I can’t imagine what could have happened if it had,” said Nilesh Rathod, security in-charge, employed by the organiser.
There were also about 7-8 generators and 7-8 vanity vans stationed near the stage. They are all run on diesel, and were moved from the spot after the fire broke out.