But with no available emergency facility or fire exit in sight to escape the flames, sixteen Mantralaya officials including the public relations officers (PRO) of both the chief minister and the home minister were forced to descend from the sixth floor onto the fifth by a drainage pipe.
Satish Lalit (52), the PRO of the chief minister of Maharashtra who is recuperating at the J J hospital narrated the fleeting moments to MiD DAY.
“It was 2.15 pm and I was at the Dy CM’s office on the sixth floor for a meeting. Suddenly a staff member came running into the room informing us about the fire. When we opened the glass panel, dark smoke entered the room, following which we informed the Dy CM Ajit Pawar, who was in his office at that point of time. The available staff swung into action and rescued the minister from his office,” he said.
He continued, “Due to the thick smoke, people who were with us developed breathing problems. There was a group of as many as sixteen people with us including the PRO of the home minister and one NCP MLA Vinayak Mete was also with us. We broke the glass window and managed to climb down to the fifth floor with the help of a drainage pipe. From there, fire officers rescued us.”
Kishor Gangurde (32), PRO of the home minister had a close shave. While he was coming down, the drainage pipe broke into two and Gangurde fell on the extended slab on the fifth floor. He received a leg injury and is in the same ward where Lalit is admitted. He was unavailable for comment.