Andheri tower blaze: Personnel blame poor infrastructure for fire at Lotus Business Park

Jul 20, 2014, 08:20 IST | Chetna Yerunkar & Ankoor Anvekar

They recount how non-functional fire equipment and sudden water shortage aggravated Friday’s fire

Strong winds, non-functional fire equipments and sudden shortage of water at Lotus Business Park in Andheri made it a Herculean task for fire personnel to douse the flames on Friday.

Also read: Andheri tower blaze - We'd rather jump than burn to death, say firemen

Ramchandra Shelke
Ramchandra Shelke, one of the 22 fire fighters at Andheri

Apart from 10 men who were stranded on the building’s terrace, 22 others were trapped on the 21st and the 22nd floors of the highrise. They revealed that the water pipe they took up to use was burnt. Since the electric shaft in the tower wasn’t sealed, the fire spread further.

sunday mid-day spoke to a few of them who are currently recuperating at the National Burns Centre in Airoli and Cooper Hospital at Juhu.

Firemen’s experiences
Rajesh Shinde (45), station officer at the Bandra fire station said, “We thought we would never escape that fire. Escaping from the lower floors was difficult as they were full of smoke. We were stranded for two hours. Had the internal fire equipment functioned, this could have been avoided.”

Ramchandra Shelke (34), fireman at Goregoan fire station, who suffered burns on his face along with injuries on his hands said, “Glass pieces were falling on us and the strong winds worsened the situation.” Vasudeo Sawant, a fireman at Dindoshi fire station who has been in this service since 23 years, said, “I have handled the 1992-93 riots and the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. But I have never witnessed something so horrible. The hydrants were non-functional, too.”

Also read: Lotus Business Park didn't have refuge area or functional hydrants

MV Sawant, officer in charge of the Andheri fire station said, “The water pipes caught fire and got burnt. The fear of death was always there at the back of our minds.”

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