Short circuit caused Damu Nagar inferno: Fire report

The fire brigade inquiry report says it was in one of the houses, possibly in an electric oven; the presence of combustible material, apart from LPG cylinders, spread the blaze

The fire that ravaged 2,000 homes and killed two in Damu Nagar, Kandivli last week, was triggered by a short circuit in one of the houses. The information has come from a fire brigade inquiry report. The short circuit may have taken place in an electric oven.

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Many of the residents are staying at Damu Nagar in tents. Pic/Sameer Markande
Many of the residents are staying at Damu Nagar in tents. Pic/Sameer Markande

A fire broke out in Damu Nagar on December 7. Two residents died in the blaze while thousands were rendered homeless. People have since been staying on the land or in civic transit camps, awaiting rehabilitation. Many have rejected the state government aid of Rs 3,800, and anxiety is running high.

People are waiting to start life from scratch now. On December 10, mid-day had reported how the police had stated that the fire started in the house of Mangala Gawai. At the time, fire officials had clearly stated that about 12 LPG cylinders had exploded, but were not the cause of the fire.

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An inquiry was started after talking to several witnesses, and fire officials have now completed the report. “The fire was caused by a short circuit in the house of Mangala Gawai,” said Yashwant Jadhav, deputy chief fire officer, in-charge of the area.

Gawai, who works as a domestic help, and her family were not home at the time. When asked if a notice will be sent to the residents, as is the practice after a fire, Jadhav said that since this was a fire in a slum, that won’t be done. Notices are generally sent to the secretary or chairman of a housing society for lack of firefighting equipment in the building.

“I am not sure if it started due to the electric oven, since there were a few electric appliances in the house, apart from loose wiring. The short circuit caused a minor fire, after which residents of the house, who were outside, rushed inside to douse it. But a nearby kerosene stove fuelled the fire.

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They then ran out. Soon after, a domestic gas cylinder in a neighbouring house exploded,” said another fire brigade official privy to investigations. The report also states that the presence of combustible material, apart from LPG cylinders, led to the spread of the fire. The shanties in the area were largely made of wood, polythene sheets and had illegal electric connections.

When asked if any action will be taken against the Gawai family, D S Yadav, senior police inspector, Samta Nagar Police station said, “We haven’t got the report yet. Once we get it, we will investigate the matter further and see if any action is needed.”

Another fire
A small fire broke out on the 6th floor of 13-storey Guru Niwas in Andheri East around 9.30 am yesterday. It originated in a closed flat and was confined to it. Although fire officials gave no confirmation, it is suspected that a short circuit caused it. Four fire engines were sent to the spot and the fire was doused within minutes. No casualty was reported.

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