The owner of a restaurant inside a Mumbai shopping mall at Oshiwara, which caught fire on Thursday morning, has expressed his anger over the lack of fire safety measures in the poorly-maintained three-floor building.
Pratap’s Wild Dining – A Jungle Theme Restaurant, which is situated on the third floor of the Om Heera Panna Mall, in Oshiwara, remains closed, as does the entire mall, while investigations into the cause of the fire continue. Fire on for 11 hours At least 15 fire engines rushed to the scene and spent 11 hours dousing the blaze, which broke out at 3 am, in the basement.
The firefighters rescued 15 people who were trapped inside, and no one was injured. Sanjay Pratap, who owns the popular restaurant, says: “Reliance and the BMC are investigating what happened. The mall is closed until they have finished and they have checked the structure of the building. “I am not happy with this. I am losing money every day that my restaurant remains closed, and yet I still have to pay my staff and rent.”
Where is fire safety?
He adds he is completely dissatisfied with the fire safety measures at the mall. “I want to see more fire drills and more testing of the equipments,” he asserts. “When the fire broke out, the night watchmen had no idea how to use the fire extinguishers. I am not happy with the fire prevention measures at the mall. I am just glad there were no customers inside my restaurant.”
He says his understanding is that TV sets were being stored in the basement, which should not have been there, as the basement is meant for parking. “The TVs caught fire. I have no idea how. We don’t know if it was a short circuit or sabotage,” he explains, adding, “The building is not well-maintained because many people have not paid their dues to the society, leaving them helpless.”
Pratap also owns Pratap’s: The Dhaba, a Punjabi village-themed restaurant and Pratap’s Chandni Chowk, a Delhi street food-themed eatery, both in Oshiwara. On Thursday morning, when the fire broke out, there were no customers in the restaurant but seven of his staff were cleaning inside. “They phoned me and said there was smoke coming at them from all sides and they could not escape,” he recalls, “I told them to go to the terrace. Luckily, they did and two hours later, they were rescued from the terrace by the fire brigade.”
No one from the society, which manages the mall, was available for comment. Wild Dining is dotted with fake trees and branches, as well as replicas of monkeys, deer, tigers, tribal men, a huge black bear and snakes. Ever so often, a sound and light show takes place across the restaurant, when fake animals start roaring, tribal men start drumming and sounds of crickets, monkeys and other jungle noises can be heard.