A 50-year-old commercial cum residential building in Kalbadevi was engulfed in flames after a loud explosion, followed by a major fire, which broke out at 4.30 pm on Saturday. By 5 pm, the fire had destroyed all five floors of the building.
A commercial building in Kalbadevi caught fire at around 4:30 pm today. While the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, onlookers stated that the fire started from the ground floor of 33-Gokul Niwas building and slowly started engulfing the front part of the building.
What’s worse, fire engines couldn’t reach on time because of the narrow lane within which the building stands and illegal parking of vehicles on Ambedkar Road below JJ flyover and in the narrow lane of Pydhooni, Nagpada area majorly delaying the rescue operation by more than an hour.
The fire-vehicles, tankers and ambulances, coming to rescue those trapped inside the building were stuck in approximately a kilometer long traffic jam. Eventually, the police officials, had to take help of local residents, in order to move bikes and cars, parked by the side of the road, to make way for emergency vehicles. However, residents blamed the police for thee illegal parking.
“The police can very well clear this area daily but instead they take bribes and allow such parking. This has caused major trouble for fire engines as there is very little space for the vehicles to move,” said Vijay Pathak (54), one of the local resident.
This building was currently under construction and was covered by wooden scaffolding and a net, in order to stop the debris from falling on passersby. Officials stated that the net and wooden scaffolding added to the fire as they quickly caught fire and spread it to the entire building. According to fire officials, the width of the lane is barely 2.5 metres and a time only two engines could enter the narrow lane.
Even ambulances could not reach on time to rescue the injured. Fire officials are also finding it difficult to get enough water as there is no other source of water in the vicinity at present. “There’s also only one snorkel ladder and between one fire engine moving to make way for another fire engine for the purpose of water, the firemen on the ladder have to wait. This is causing more problems and fire is already spreading to the sides of the building,” said one of the officers.
By late evening firemen were also worried about some of their officers stuck under the debris. A senior fire officer confirmed that chief fire officer Sunil Nesrikar, who was rushed to Masina Hospital, had sustained around 40% burn injuries. “He sustained injuries when a ball of flame hit his face. We will shift him to the Airoli burns center for further treatment,” said the officer. Nesrikar was also part of the fire rescue operations when a similar fire had caught another commercial building in Andheri (W), where another fireman also lost his life.
Officials also confirmed that deputy fire officer S D Amin as also rushed to Bombay Hospital with 80% burn injuries. Two other fire officers have been reported missing.
Crowd that had gathered around the building was getting difficult to handle and eventually police had to use force to disperse the public. By 9:30pm the police cordoned off the area between Dilli Bazaar and Metro in order to push the crowd away from the site.
Deputy Fire Officer SG Amin was rushed to the National Burns Centre at Airoli
2 officers dead
S Rane and M Desai were pulled out from the debris
Chief Fire Officer Sunil Nesrikar was also moved to Airoli