One body pulled out; blaze spread as fire brigade found it tough to navigate narrow approach road in densely populated Appa pada
A fire destroys settlements at Appa pada in Malad East, on Monday. Pic/Anurag Ahire
A Fire engulfed nearly 1,000 houses at Anand Nagar slum in Appa pada, Malad East, and killed one person on Monday, officials said. Rescue operations were underway until late night. Firefighters struggled to reach the forestland, where the blaze erupted, due to narrow lanes.
The body was sent to HBT Trauma Care Centre and a search operation is underway to find any injured and missing people, said officials.
Witnesses told mid-day that slum dwellers heard multiple cylinder blasts late afternoon and ran out of their houses, which are located close to a forestland. The fire brigade contained the blaze by 7 pm and started cooling operations.
“The fire was confined to 800 to 1,000 huts over 10,000 square metres. Around 15 to 20 cylinder explosions had occurred,” said a fire official.
A man tries to douse the fire at Anand Nagar slum in Appa pada, Malad East, on Monday
Bapu Santish Borade, a resident of Sainath chawl committee, Ambedkar Nagar, Appa pada, said, “I was in my office when I got a call from my wife about the fire. Only my wife and son were at home and I told them to immediately leave the house and go to a safe place. My wife with the help of our neighbours removed the gas cylinder and vacated the area. All our belongings have been destroyed in the fire.”
The fire was reported around 4.45 pm, but the fire brigade faced difficulty to reach the spot due to small lanes and the geography of the area. Officials declared it a level-three fire at 5.15 pm and more fire engines were rushed to the spot.
mid-day also saw the challenges the police and fire brigade faced while navigating the traffic, as the road off Western Express Highway, leading to Appa pada, is narrow. The highway became even more crowded in the evening.
Bapu Santish Borade said he lost all his belongings, but his wife and son are safe. Pics/Sameer Markande
“Most of the houses that were gutted in the fire were built many years ago on private land and few huts were on forestland,” said Vinod Mishra, former corporator from Malad.
A police constable, requesting anonymity, told mid-day, “The fire brigade and the police made every effort to prevent the fire from spreading to the forest, or else there would have been a huge loss to the forest cover in Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).”
“"We learnt about the fire when we saw plumes of smoke emanating from the slum pocket below. We also heard cylinders exploding. Thankfully, the fire brigade controlled the fire or else it would have reached our tribal hamlet where more than 900 of us live,” said Shailesh Page, a tribal resident from the tribal hamlet inside SGNP. Kiran Dighavkar, assistant commissioner of P North ward, said, “There was an electric substation. It is still unclear whether the fire started due to the explosion of cylinders or sparks at the substation or from something else. The fire is under control and we have put up three big tents on open spaces where residents can stay for a couple of days.”
There was a fire just 500 metres away, at Jamrishi Nagar slum on the forestland, and a 12-year-old boy had died last month.
No. of approximate cylinder explosions