Less than a week after the Mantralaya caught fire, yet another government building saw a blaze on one of its floors. A fire broke out in Central Railway’s administrative building in the CST complex, which saw the cancellation of more than 12 services, leaving commuters stranded.
Twenty fire engines had to be brought in to contain the blaze that broke out in the server room of Container Corporation of India, which is housed on the fifth floor of CST’s administrative building. Pic/Emmanual Karbhari
Even the roads experienced traffic jams, as vehicles had to be diverted away from the flaming building. The fire was noticed at around 5.20 pm, as the staffers of Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) a subsidiary of Indian Railways were about to leave.
The fire took 100 minutes to be doused completely. Pic/Rane Ashish
This office is on the fifth floor of the CR building, which houses other offices as well. A few employees saw sparks flying inside the server room which, sources said, kept increasing in intensity. “We immediately went inside with our fire extinguishers, but couldn’t control the sparks. By then, we had also called the fire department,” said an official from CONCOR.
People crowded around the building and on the platforms, even as authorities asked them to stay away. Harbour line took a hit, and more than 12 trains were cancelled. Pic/Sameer Markande
Employees began to rush out as smoke filled the floor. There are around 35 staff members working for CONCOR, while nearly 100 people work on the entire floor. Officials began informing the rest of the departments, who immediately asked their respective staff to leave.
Shutting it out
Within 20 minutes of the incident, the fire brigade arrived with around 20 fire engines, and three snorkel ladders two of them 42 metres long, and one measuring 55 metres. Offices on the sixth floor were evacuated by 5.35 pm.
“Smoke started entering our offices and that is when we asked our staff to leave. Until 6.30 pm, there was no damage to our office that is right above the fire spot,” said a senior CR official.
“We got six water tankers, one turntable ladder, 20 fire engines, and three snorkel ladders to the spot,” said Shashikant Kale, deputy chief fire officer.
Fire officials balanced themselves deftly on the parapet as they tried to direct the water spray towards the source of the fire. Several windowpanes had to be broken to allow water to reach the blaze in an efficient manner.
The traffic department kicked into gear and began cordoning off D N Road and diverting vehicles going towards J J Flyover. Vehicles were told to go via Mahanagar Palika Marg and further on, which caused heavy traffic on the road.
“We closed vehicular traffic going towards north on D N Road and J J Flyover at around 6 pm. By 7 pm northbound traffic was restarted,” said B K Upadhyay, joint commissioner of police (traffic).
However, it was a nightmare to come from Churchgate to CST on wheels, as people preferred walking down the road towards the station. Several traffic policemen were seen asking people to stay away the spot of fire, although many continued to click pictures as the building spewed out flames.
The fire hampered services on the Harbour line, and people were left stranded on the platforms at CST. Platform 1 was shut for more than two hours, along with the foot over-bridge at the Dadar end. Only platform 2 was operational, putting a huge burden on the trains that were actually running.
Narendra Patil, chief PRO, Central Railway, informed, “More than 12 services were cancelled on the Harbour line of Central Railway. We ran five special services between Wadala-Panvel/Bandra, and trains were delayed by 20 minutes until evening.” Officials said no injuries or casualties occurred, while the damages are still being assessed. It took 100 minutes for the fire to be doused.
Central Railway building is no stranger to fires, as these previous incidents show:
December 18, 2010: The disaster management cell of CR, ironically, caught fire. This was on the first floor, right above the office of the DRM. The cell and fire officials attributed the source to an electric short circuit in the two air-conditioners. Furniture and carpet were charred.
December 9, 2010: A major fire erupted inside the CR Employees Co-operative Society office due to a gas cylinder blast. The fire caused extensive damages to the society’s shop and the adjacent canteen.