ESIC Hospital Fire: 20 cylinders found stashed inside ESIC canteen, says report

Jan 08, 2019, 12:10 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

Fire department's report says it's unclear whether the canteen was a legal structure or not, as MIDC is yet to hand over documents related to permissions to BMC

ESIC Hospital Fire: 20 cylinders found stashed inside ESIC canteen, says report
The fire department had earlier pointed out that the ESIC hospital was lacking several fire safety measures. The staircase was narrow and even the fire ducts were open. File Pic

The fire department's investigation into the massive blaze at the ESIC Hospital in Marol on December 17, has revealed that more than 20 LPG cylinders were stored in the hospital's canteen. The probe report said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has not yet received documents related to permissions for setting up the canteen.

The report said sparks/burning spatters from welding work passed through the opening of the second floor fire duct and came in contact with combustible material like stocks of nitrite rubber insulating materials, wooden boxes, adhesive, tins of paint and packing materials kept for renovation work in the ground floor storage area. It states that as the hospital doesn't fall under the BMC's jurisdiction, it was difficult to go through the required approvals of the hospital building, but still they want the MIDC chief fire officer to inspect the premises to find out whether there were irregularities.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a fire officer said, "A number of LPG cylinders were stocked in the canteen. Luckily, the fire didn't spread much to the ground floor, or else, the situation would have been worse. We do not allow such activities in premises in our jurisdiction, and even the MIDC fire department should have carried out checks."

Elaborating further on the legality of the canteen, the report said, "Whether the canteen was being run legally and regular fire inspections were being carried out can be confirmed only after receiving information from the MIDC chief fire officer."

The fire department had earlier pointed out that the hospital was lacking several fire safety measures. The staircase was narrow, which led to problems in rescuing people and also the ducts were open, due to which smoke passed through them and caused breathing issues for patients.

Speaking to mid-day, Deputy Chief Fire Officer of MIDC M V Ogale, said, "We have not received the fire report yet. As far as the canteen is concerned, I don't recollect issuing any separate permission in recent times. The hospital authorities came to us for fresh permissions in 2009. Before that permissions were given by the BMC (in 1972 and 1984).

When contacted, Chief Fire Officer, P S Rahangdale, said, "We cannot comment on the legality of the structure as we are not the planning authority. However, the report recommends that the assistant municipal commissioner of K-East ward should verify the parameters and take action." Despite repeated attempts, Dr B B Gupta, medical superintendent of ESIC, remained unavailable for comment.

'Defective circuit led to Chembur fire'
After evaluating various circumstantial evidences and eyewitness accounts related to the case of the Sargam Society fire at Tilak Nagar, the fire department has said that the probable cause of the fire was a "defective electric circuit". On December 27 last year, a fire broke out at the Chembur society from a spark in the decorative lighting around a Christmas tree kept in the living room of an 11th floor apartment.

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