Mumbai Fire: Blaze guts mansion at Fort
Heritage structure Kothari Mansion to be pulled down once cause of fire determined; BMC files FIR against occupiers for neglect
A level-four fire gutted down Kothari Mansion, a century-old Grade II Heritage structure, opposite the Government Post Office (GPO) early on Saturday morning in Fort. The fire, locals said, started on the 3rd floor of the empty building on the intervening night of Saturday. What looked like a minor fire soon escalated to the fourth floor before gutting the lower second floor. Two fire fighters were injured as a portion of the building collapsed during the fire fighting process.
The fire broke around 3.30 in the morning. "We received a distress call from somebody in the locality at 4.16am. We immediately rushed our vehicles to the spot," said a fire official. Looking at the intensity of the fire, engines and assistance was further called down from Fort, Nariman Point, Gowalia Tank, Mazgaon, Mandovi and Colaba fire stations. It took 12 hours of fire fighting to control the fire.
Area cordoned off
With fears of the entire structure coming down, Mint Road was cordoned off by the traffic police. "We have been able to spot some horizontal and vertical cracks on the building. The road has been cordoned off fearing chances of a building collapse," said an in-charge fire official. Prabhat Rahangdale, chief fire officer, Mumbai Fire Brigade, said. "We are at present trying to determine the cause of the fire. The investigation will take at least a week."
Eye witnesses narrate horror
Aatik Naik and Wakar Naik, the owners of Light of Asia cafe on the ground floor of the building were devastated. "I got a call in the morning. I rushed immediately. We had just painted the restaurant and were about to make the wallpaper and designs. We never thought we would wake up to this," said Aatik Naik.
Building going down
According to information from the civic body, Kothari Mansion was a cessed building. The two occupiers had approached MHADA and had promised them that they would redevelop the structure, after which MHADA handed it to them.
Speaking to mid-day, Kiran Dighavkar, A ward officer, said, "We have vacated the adjoining buildings and have asked them to do structural audit before re-occupying the structure. We have also issued instructions to MHADA. Once the procedures of the fire brigade finish, MHADA will pull down the building." Stating that the building's development was neglected by the NOC-holders (occupiers), Mr Dighavkar added, "We have registered an FIR for endangering the lives of the fire officials and causing damage to the equipment."
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