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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fire at Byculla industrial estate claims 10 lives

Fire at Byculla industrial estate claims 10 lives

59 people were injured after short-circuit sets off aerosol cans stored in one of the rooms


In one of the worst fires in Mumbai, 10 persons were killed and 59 wounded when a fire broke out on Monday afternoon at an industrial estate in Byculla, predominantly occupied by perfume manufacturing units.
The fire brigade and medical staff were still searching for victims four hours after the fire broke out, and authorities have not ruled out the possibility more bodies being found in the building. The congested lane where the industrial estate is located, accompanied by the absence of fire hydrants in the vicinity, made the job of the fire brigade extremely difficult. The presence of a large number of pressurised spray cans kept fuelling the fire.
The fire was so huge that a 12 fire engines were deployed and 8 tankers continuously ferried water for four hours even as three BMC ambulances ferried the injured to hospitals.
According to police records, 59 injured persons were admitted to Sir J J Hospital and KEM hospital, 42 of them being men and 10 being women. Of them, three women and one man later succumbed to injuries. They have been identified as Chitra Mahadik, 28, Nalini Tirlotkar, 35, and Neelam Pilwankar, 18, while the lone man killed in the accident has been identified as Hussain (age not known). Three more unidentified bodies were removed from the estate late Monday night.
The cause of the fire is suspected to be an explosion on the third floor of the five-storey Retiwala Industrial Estate located close to Byculla Zoo. According to police sources, a fire broke out at Gala No 309 (Rekhi Enterprises) which manufactures room fresheners and perfume aerosol cans. A short-circuit sparked the cans stored in the gala which started exploding one-by-one. Within minutes the fire had engulfed the entire third-storey and began spreading to other floors.
The Retiwala estate has 50 galas, 10 on each floor and a number of manufacturing units like perfume-making,
a printing press, leather product manufacturers and so on. Residents of chawls in the vicinity said approximately 150 to 200 workers, a majority of them women, used to work in these manufacturing units.
Most of the workers who escaped unhurt were those on the ground floor and two floors above.
Till the time the fire brigade reached the spot, residents of nearby localities had already got into the act. Some daredevil youth tried to get closer to the fourth floor of the estate with the help of ropes and rescued people trapped inside. According to residents of neighbouring Durvankur Housing Society, at least three fires have broken out in the industrial estate in the past two years and society members had even lodged complaints with the municipal authorities and the pollution control board against the inflammable material illegally stored inside the complex.
Late on Monday night, Deputy Chief Minister, R R Patil visited the injured along with Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor, Joint Police Commissioner (law & order) K L Prasad and DCP Brajesh Singh.
“We will look into the compensation issue. An inquiry has already been ordered into the incident and we will check if safety measures were adhered to by the owners of the building. We will also look into allegations that the fire brigade did not reach on time,” Patil said.

A fire broke out at a perfume manufacturing unit at Retiwala Industrial Estate, Byculla, on Monday afternoon

Ten people were killed and 59 injured in the fire

12 fire engines and 8 tankers were pressed into service and took four hours to put out the fire


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