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Monday, December 15, 2014

Firemen douse blaze in highrise in Mumbai Central, no casualties

3 Need Surgery; Fire & Smoke Spread Via Duct
A major tragedy was averted at Mumbai Central on Monday morning when fire-fighters were able to douse a blaze in the 21-storey railway quarters opposite the station in an hour without any casualties. But over a dozen of the 60 people evacuated had to be hospitalized; a few received serious burns and will need surgery.

The fire brigade received an SOS around 11.15am and tenders from several fire stations like Worli, Byculla and Bhendi Bazaar were rushed to the ground-plus-21-floors building known to be over two decades old. Though equipped with sprinklers and extinguishers, none of the equipment worked indicating poor maintenance and awareness.

Fire officials said preliminary reports indicate the flames started in a service duct in the shaft of the staircase, which was encroached upon by old furniture, among other things.

Unconfirmed reports said the fire started from a stove in a servant quarters on the fourth floor. The servant quarters on the fourth floors were the worst hit.

"The fire started spreading from one of the mid-level floors and went upwards and downwards simultaneously through the duct. However, it spread towards the top floors with higher intensity. We immediately started rescuing people through the stairway and also through our ladders outside," said P S Rahangdale, the deputy chief fire officer.

The fire was doused in an hour but cooling operations continued till 3pm. Every floor in the building is known to have two apartments and two servant quarters which are outhouses as well. As the duct was closer to the servant quarters, those living in them were more affected. The smoke spread quickly after the fire started, making it difficult for those in the top floors to breathe. "Initially a few of the residents were extremely afraid, but we managed to bring them all down safely," said Rahangdale.

As many as 14 persons had to be rushed to the nearby BYL Nair and Jagjivan Ram hospitals. Of the seven taken to Nair hospital, three had sustained serious burns. "They will require surgery. The patients have sustained around 10-18% burns. All are stable and have been kept under observation," said dean Dr Ramesh Bharmal. Six patients admitted to the Jagjivan Ram hospital were discharged by evening. "Patients had discomfort due to smoke inhalation. Only one patient has been kept under observation," said Sharat Chandrayan, chief PRO, Western Railway.

Residents were relieved a major tragedy had been avert ed. An officer who lives on the 18th floor said he was at work when he got a call from a help who was in the building.

"I was told there was smoke and a fire had broken out. I rushed to the building. I am glad everyone has been brought out safely and there has not been a calamity."


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