Mumbai: Cooler short-circuit may have led to Dagdi Chawl fire

Saturday’s fire at Dagdi Chawl did not claim any casualties, but the blaze at the structure could have taken a huge toll, with the building’s narrow corridors and staircase

The fire that broke out in Dagdi Chawl at around 11.23 pm on Saturday spread rapidly due to the large amount of wood in the building’s structure. The outbreak started on the second floor of Dagdi Chawl–E Building, said to have been caused due to a short circuit in a cooler.

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The fire brigade had to use a ladder machine to douse the fire, as the staircase was too narrow to support any fire-fighting operations. Pic/Satyajit Desai
The fire brigade had to use a ladder machine to douse the fire, as the staircase was too narrow to support any fire-fighting operations. Pic/Satyajit Desai

The fire department has not come out with the actual cause yet. There were no casualties; people managed to save their skins by escaping via the chawl’s narrow staircase. Nine homes were damaged in the building. The affected floor has 13 dwellings in total, some of which have 10 members living in each flat.

The room where the fire started
The room where the fire started

Fire near Gawli’s flat
The house immediately adjoining the flat where the fire started belongs to Arun Gawli’s mother, Laxmi, whose attic was damaged. Soon after the outbreak, neighbours rushed to Laxmi’s help as she can barely walk due to a physical ailment.

The residents had the presence of mind to move all the gas cylinders out of the building after the fire started
The residents had the presence of mind to move all the gas cylinders out of the building after the fire started

Purva Dalvi was alone in a flat on the second floor with her two children when the fire broke out. “I immediately ran towards the staircase holding Purva’s eight- and three-year-old children in my arms. Fortunately, a first floor neighbour helped me out by picking up the three-year-old boy from my arms through the gaps in the staircase,” said a resident.

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The building has a narrow staircase, which made it difficult for the residents to exit, causing panic all around
The building has a narrow staircase, which made it difficult for the residents to exit, causing panic all around

Resident Unati Jadhav, a mother of three girls who study at St Joseph School, said, “The school had recently reopened. The fire has burnt down my home and all the study material of my children. They have nothing left with them. In such a situation, how are we supposed to send our children to school?”

The residents of the chawl have alleged that they have not yet received any help from the authorities. “When we contacted the MHADA authorities on Saturday night they said they would visit us at 7 am on Sunday. Nobody turned up,” said Dalvi.

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The fire was finally doused at around 2.15 am on Sunday. Eight fire engines from Byculla, Dadar, Worli and Memonwada fire brigade stations were summoned to control this outbreak. Though the cause has not been stated yet, fire officials say the fire had spread rapidly in the chawl since it supported a lot of wood in its structure.

Geeta, daughter of Arun Gawli and a local corporator, said, “We’ll move out those who have had their houses burnt down in the fire to a nearby transit camp.”

Voices

Shivram Kerkar, the owner of the flat in which the fire started
My father and I were at home when a short circuit took place in the cooler, and it was engulfed in fire.

Pooja Jadhav, chawl resident
My sons study in Christ Church High School at Clare Road. My elder son who studies in the sixth standard has his examinations starting from Wednesday; he lost all his new textbooks and study material.

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