The residents of RBT colony in Chembur were so busy enjoying the beats of garba, which was being celebrated in the adjacent lane, that they failed to notice the disaster that awaited them.
At 10 pm on Friday, as most residents stood on their balconies to look at the celebrations, gas leaked in the residence of Shantaram Bhoir. When the residents realised something was amiss, they went looking for the source. But before they could do anything, a loose wire in the vicinity set the gas on fire and engulfed seven residents including a month-old baby.
Bhoir, who lives with his wife Shraddha (30) on the first floor of the building, was out on work at the time of the incident and his son was celebrating Navratri. His wife left to watch the celebrations, not realising there was a gas leak. When she opened the door of her flat, a loose wire in the room seemed to have sparked off a fire, engulfing her and the others present.
Shraddha’s neighbour Vimla Pal (36) realised there was a gas leak and stepped out with her month-old baby to exit the building, but curious as anyone would be, she took a step towards Shraddha’s door, only to be caught in the flames herself. Vimla and her son were rushed to a local hospital but since there were no doctors to treat them there, they were taken to a private hospital in Chembur.
Recalling the incident, Pal, who received 60-65 per cent burns, told SUNDAY MiD DAY, “On realising there was a gas leak somewhere on our floor, the first thing that came to my mind was that I had to leave the building with my son. But when I saw my neighbours trying to find the source, I went ahead to look and before I knew it, there was fire everywhere.” Her baby escaped with minor burns on his forehead.
The rest of the residents were taken to Masina Hospital in Byculla. While Shraddha received around 60-65 per cent burns, there were four other residents who were caught in the flames. Shalu Madhukar Gaikwad and Mamta Shettigar (32) received 90 per cent burns, while Dhanush Shettigar (10) and Suryakant Kamble (26) received minimal burns on their arms. A doctor from the hospital revealed that two of the patients are in the general ward, while three are in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit.
An official from the Chembur Fire Department said, “We received the call regarding the fire at the residence at around 10.13 pm and immediately sent a team there. Residents claim that a loose wire may have caused the fire. However, investigations are in progress to find the exact cause of the fire.”