Major fire at Nahur tyre factory disrupts Mumbai train services

Feb 23, 2014, 20:45 IST | Richa Pinto

Train services were severly affected on Sunday after a major fire broke out in the Ceat Tyres factory in the central suburb of the city; so far no casualties have been reported in the incident

Smoke and flames billowed from the Ceat Tyres factory in Nahur yesterday. The fire broke out at 5.38 pm and preliminary reports suggested no one had died in the incident. Workers at the company are known to work in four shifts and the fire occurred in the second shift. The cause of the fire is unknown as of now.

Pic/Sameer Markande

“The cause of the fire is not yet clear. It appears to be a short circuit. Some other theories going around are that it started due to a stray spark during welding work. We were working in another department when the news broke out, and we all rushed out. Luckily, we escaped unhurt,” said Bajirao Tupe, a worker at the factory.

Close to 500 workers were in the unit when the fire reportedly began from the rubber and raw materials department of the factory. Around 10 water tanks and 16 fire trucks were sent to the spot. Yet, the flames were uncontrollable. A fire official at the spot said that foam blenders had been called in, which help put out the flames and reduce the black soot that the burning raw rubber produced.

Many people came to the station simply to watch the fire, causing a hindrance to railway officials. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
Many people came to the station simply to watch the fire, causing a hindrance to railway officials. Pics/Datta Kumbhar

Ambulances were kept on stand-by, in case any firefighter or officer is exposed to excess smoke while extinguishing the flames. As of 9.30 pm in the night yesterday, the fire had still not been doused, almost four hours after it began.

Passengers stranded at Nahur as trains cancelled

Train services were severely affected after the fire broke out in a warehouse in a CEAT Tyres factory in Nahur. The fire started around 5.45 pm, after which train services on Central Railway took a beating. The factory is right outside Nahur station, due to which rail authorities had to take preventive measures to avoid any untoward incident. Services were resumed at 10.40 pm.

According to railway officials, the down local trains (ones going towards Thane and beyond) were the first ones to be stopped, at 5.50 pm. These trains virtually pass by the factory en route to their destination. A railway police officer at Nahur said the heat was so intense that the services had to be shut. Sources said that after two down trains were terminated - they were stopped at Bhandup station - two services were cancelled immediately.

Trains were diverted onto the fast line to avoid passing through Nahur. About an hour later, even the up trains (going towards Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) were diverted onto the fast track, leaving commuters stranded at Nahur; no train came to the station in either direction. Moreover, passengers were also suffering in the heat from the blaze.

This increased the chaos at other stations on CR, as passenger movement was restricted. Many had to either go to Vikhroli or Mulund stations to catch trains. “We diverted slow train services on the fast line, as the heat was too much at Nahur station,” said AK Singh, spokesperson, CR.

Officials added that many people simply came to the station to look at the huge fire that had engulfed the CEAT factory, without actually boarding the trains. The railway police posted there had to clear the station premises for safety reasons.

To make matters worse, yesterday was the mega block - scheduled on Sundays -between Kalyan and Thane from 11.30 am and 4 pm. Trains leaving from Kalyan from 11.03 am-3.54 pm were diverted onto the fast line between Kalyan and Mulund, halting at Dombivli and Thane. Fast services leaving CST from 10.08 am to 2.40 pm halted at Ghatkopar, Vikhroli, Bhandup and Mulund. This led to delays and clogging of services on the fast tracks.

One injured
One person sustained major burn injuries in the incident. Fire officials said that 10 water tanks and 16 fire engines were sent to the spot to douse the flames; the efforts were on past 8 pm yesterday. The patient was rushed to Mulund’s government-run M T Agarwal Hospital, where he is now undergoing treatment.

The injured man, according to hospital staff, claims he worked in the factory, and has sustained around 20-25 per cent burn injuries. Speaking to MiD DAY, a doctor from the hospital said, “The patient is around 30 years old and sustained burn injuries on his face. He is undergoing treatment in the casualty ward, but his condition is stable as of now.”

Scared residents
There are many buildings and chawls located around the factory. Locals in the area were scared seeing the leaping flames around their houses. Despite the continuous influx of fire engines, the fire refused to subside.

Lalit Desai, a local resident, said, “Workers from the company were continuously being rushed out and flames were rising. We could see them from every corner of the area. That’s what scared us; we were afraid that the fire may harm the nearby houses.”

Vivek Monteiro, the president of the Mumbai Shramik Sangh, a workers’ union, told MiD DAY he had been inside the factory. “This company has been operational for several decades now, but never has a fire of such large intensity occurred. We are not anticipating any casualties.”

10.40 pm
The time that local train services resumed at Nahur station yesterday

Number of workers in the factory when the fire broke out

Number of fire engines sent to the spot

Number of water tankers used to put out the flames

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