Mumbai Fire: Five seniors killed in Chembur highrise massive blaze

Updated: 28 December, 2018 18:12 IST | Chetna Sadadekar and Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Fire started in 10th floor flat and spread to 14th floor; fire officials say fire safety system in building was not in working condition

The fire gutted five floors of Sargam building at Tilak Nagar, Chembur, on Thursday. Pics/Atul Kamble
The fire gutted five floors of Sargam building at Tilak Nagar, Chembur, on Thursday. Pics/Atul Kamble

Five people were killed and a senior citizen was injured in a fire that broke out on the 10th floor of Sargam Society at Tilak Nagar, Chembur. Of the casualties, three are family members of senior police inspector of Vikhroli police station, Sanjay Joshi. His father, Shrinivas, survived the blaze and has been admitted in hospital. Fire brigade officials were searching flats for any people still trapped inside till the time of going to press.

A fire official on spot who did not wish to be named said, "The fire fighting system of the building was not in working condition as we had to pull in water from our sources instead of the internal system. Had that been in place it would have been easier for us during firefighting."

According to information received from Rajawadi Hospital, six people were taken there, of whom five were reported brought dead, namely, Sunita Joshi, 72, Bhalchandra Joshi, 72, Suman Shrinivas Joshi, mother of the Vikhroli police officer, 83, Sarala Gangar, 52, and Laxmiben Premji Gangar, 83, while Shrinivas Joshi, 86, and fireman Chagan Singh, 28, were admitted to the ICU for suffocation. Suman and Sarala's bodies were found charred.

People from the area say they heard three loud explosions before the fire started
People from the area say they heard three loud explosions before the fire started

Locals and eyewitnesses said that they heard a loud explosion and rushed down to see what had happened. While the fire officers at the spot did not confirm anything, the locals said it sounded like three cylinder blasts and the fire rapidly spread to the 14th floor. The fire broke out around 8pm and fire operations continued into the night. A police officer at the spot, who did not wish to be named, said that Sanjay Joshi was at the spot while his father was brought out alive from the building.

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200 people gather at site
As news of the fire broke, around 200 people had gathered in the area surrounding the building. Varun G, one of the residents from the area, said, "We heard a loud sound and saw flames and smoke billowing out of the house, so we ran outside." It was the locals who immediately rushed to help on knowing about the fire.

Shailesh Ghogale and Venkatesh Yadav, who were part of the group of residents from the neighbouring building, helped not just the residents but also the fire brigade to douse the fire from the back of the building.

Shailesh said, "Our aim was to give first aid and take everyone out at the earliest and that is why we immediately rushed to the building. Later, the fire brigade came in and started their drill."

BMC Corporator of the area Susham Sawant pointed out that the narrow lanes in the area and lack of space delayed the fire fighters in reaching the spot. "Around eight to nine fire engines reached the area but faced a lot of trouble in dousing the fire as one of the roads leading to the building is narrow. While one of the fire engines entered the building premises, the snorkel vehicle could not reach the building as the main gate had a concrete gantry obstructing it. Also, it was only due to the timely intervention by other residents and people from the area that some families were rescued in time," said Sawant.

Around 10 to 12 people had gone to the terrace of the building and went to the A wing terrace, from where they came to the ground floor. Pratibha and Ashok Kanojia, residents of the 15th floor of B wing, where the fire broke out, said, "We were inside when this happened and we could smell smoke but were unaware of what had happened. Our son called us to inform us about the fire and when we came out there was lot of smoke. We immediately went to the terrace. There were a dozen people already present there."

No. of people from a single family who perished in the fire

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First Published: 28 December, 2018 15:50 IST

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