One dead in fire in almost century-old building at Colaba

Updated: Jul 22, 2019, 07:28 IST | A Correspondent

Two others including a fireman were injured in the blaze at Churchill Chambers behind the Taj Mahal Hotel; 15 people were rescued

One dead in fire in almost century-old building at Colaba
Churchill Chambers is an almost century old building. Pics/Atul Kamble

A fire broke out on the third floor of Churchill Chambers, a building behind the Taj Mahal Hotel in Colaba around 12.15 pm on Sunday, killing one person and injuring two. A resident, Shyam Aiyyar, 54, died while another, Yusuf Punawala, 43, who inhaled smoke, was admitted to the Bombay Hospital. A fireman, Bhurmal Santosh Patil from Mandvi Fire Station, who also inhaled smoke, was given First Aid. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Thick smoke filled the stairs of the building that is almost a century old, trapping residents in their third floor flats. Some were also trapped in the passage on the third floor from where they were rescued. In all 15 residents were rescued.

Many residents who were trapped in the passage were rescued
Many residents who were trapped in the passage were rescued

The fire was confined to electric wiring and installations, furniture, household articles in a residential flat where it started on third floor, and in an area of about approximately 5,000 square feet on the floor. It also spread to the staircase on the second floor of the ground plus three-storeyed structure, fire officials said. Four fire engines and four water tankers, one fire-fighting jet with a turntable ladder were used in the rescue.

According to Fire Brigade officials, 15 people were trapped, of which five who were rescued and had breathed in smoke, were given First Aid. Two people were rescued with the help of a 45 feet manual extension ladder and three with the help of the turntable ladder. The others were rescued by firemen from the staircase with breathing apparatus, said fire officials.

Five of the rescued residents were given First Aid
Five of the rescued residents were given First Aid

A resident of the neighbouring building, S Keswani, said, "We residents heard a loud noise and immediately rushed to the spot. Within no time the Fire Brigade also reached and started the rescue operation."

There are hundreds of such old buildings in A ward where senior citizens reside and fire officials said they must have their own safety precautions in place, as these buildings are more vulnerable due to lack of maintenance and modern facilities, wooden lifts and stairs etc. Fire officials also said that it was impossible for them to be involved with such buildings, as the Fire Act is of 2008, and these are all almost century old buildings. They said basic norms of placing fire alarms and fire extinguishers should be done by residents of such buildings.

'Difficulties in fire-fighting'

Chief Fire Officer PS Rahangdale, said, "As this is a very old building with a narrow staircase we faced a lot of difficulties. But as the windows did not have grills, fire-fighters then got swift access inside and were able to rescue trapped residents. In case of such buildings, due to aged construction and extensive use of wood, it is always challenging for fire-fighters to carry out rescue and fire-fighting operations."

15
No. of residents rescued

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