Grant Road fire: Despite shortage, residents poured buckets of water

Oct 09, 2015, 07:26 IST | Sadaguru Pandit

Over 100 residents from the nearby 19-storeyed Murga Giran Society pour water from 76 flats facing an industrial unit that caught fire last morning

Thanks to the presence of mind exhibited by the residents of 19-storeyed Murga Giran Society, a major tragedy was averted after a manufacturing workshop in a 25-year-old industrial unit, at Kamathipura, Grant Road, caught fire. The mishap occurred barely 10-feet away from the high-rise last morning.

Read Story: One dead in fire at godown in Grant Road

An aerial view of the charred workshop from Murga Giran Society
An aerial view of the charred workshop from Murga Giran Society

More than 100 residents of the society kept pouring water on the unit until the fire brigade officials reached the spot. Speaking to mid-day about the step taken despite the society facing regular water cuts, resident Abdul Rashid (58) said, “We had heard about the Kalbadevi fire and how quickly it engulfed the neighbourhood.

A resident of the building offers tea to the exhausted firefighters. Pics/Tushar Satam
A resident of the building offers tea to the exhausted firefighters. Pics/Tushar Satam

We didn’t want a similar tragedy here. There are too many smaller structures and residential colonies around the industrial unit to which fire could have easily spread and turned into an inferno. Rather than wait for the fire brigade or think about the ongoing water crisis, we decided to douse the fire.”

It was after all the women, children and elderly from the flats facing the workshop upto the seventh floor were evacuated, that youngsters started pouring water using hosepipes and buckets from all the 76 flats facing the workshop. They even informed their parents, who rushed home to lend a helping hand.

Abid Abdul Patel (41), a resident of the fifth floor, said, “We made an announcement for all the residents of 76 flats — facing the workshop — to vacate their homes and keep all the windows and doors open to avoid suffocation. Our building is barely 10-feet away from the workshop, from which the flames were erupting. To avoid a catastrophe, we asked all the residents to disconnect cylinders from gas burners and keep them safe.”

While the residents claimed they informed the fire brigade immediately after spotting the fire around 11.45 am, it took 45 minutes for the fire officials to reach the area and take charge of the situation. Residents claimed it took almost three hours for the fire brigade to bring the fire under control and it was finally doused by 2.49 pm.

Residents claim the fire must have started around 11.30 am, but they discovered the mishap only after flames erupted and smoke started billowing from the manufacturing unit adjacent to their building.

Official speak
Ten fire tenders, seven water tankers and several ambulances were rushed to the spot in order to control the fire, said Chief Fire Officer P S Rahangdale.

Also Read: Fire at Chembur hospital: Patients find safe haven in chapel

“Seven waterlines — two each from west and south and three from east — were used to douse the fire to prevent it from spreading to the nearby buildings, as the area is congested. While we retrieved the body of an unknown man from the workshop, one of our firemen, Satish Dharmaraj Gaikwad, sustained minor injuries to his knees.

He was treated in an EMS ambulance. To ensure safety of the locals, we have requested the BEST to confirm with us before restoring the power supply,” said Rahangdale. He added only one of the six workshops was operational at the time when fire engulfed the entire industrial unit spread across 6,000 sq ft.

Unfortunately, one of the three workers inside the workshop couldn’t exit in time and was burnt severely. The unidentified victim was rushed to the Nair hospital, where doctors declared him dead on arrival. The deceased is believed to be in his 40s. Fire officials claimed material inside the workshop, comprising garments, wood, electrical wiring, wooden doors and windows, acted as fuel for the fire, assisting it to spread faster.

Commenting on the allegations that they reached the spot late, Rahangdale said, “It was difficult to reach the site due to traffic congestion and narrow lanes. I appreciate the quick response of the residents of the neighbouring building, which eventually helped the fire brigade and others in the locality. More importantly, they didn’t interfere in our work once we reached the spot and took charge. This is highly commendable. Cooperation from public in such situations helps us perform better.”

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