A fire that broke out at around 9.30 am on Tuesday at Savla Foods and Cold Storage (P) Ltd, in Turbhe MIDC area in Navi Mumbai claimed the life of one person while two others were trapped within the premises are also feared dead. Several others were injured. Fire fighters from Navi Mumbai, Mumbai and Thane battled all day to control the smoke emanating from one of the buildings of the company.
While the fire was put out in no time, thick smoke continued to billow out of the cold storage premises all day, spreading over the nearby nodes of Turbhe and Kopar Khairane. Several company workers were trapped on the terrace of the building. With the two Bronto Skylifts of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation un-operational, the firemen had to first resort to using a ladder and rope to get the trapped people down. It was during this rescue operation that a company electrician Prabhakar Yewatkar fell to his death.
Fire personnel BB Mhatre, who was trying to rescue Prabhakar, too, received injuries as did Navi Mumbai Fire officer RT Mhatre who tried to save the two from the fall. Other firemen injured included VD Kohli and SD Joshi.
Later, a Bronto Skylift arrived from Thane and rescued the people atop the terrace. Two employees of the company Ram Bhanushali and Ramesh Savla, however, continued to be trapped within the building as fire personnel couldn't enter it. Late in the evening, attempt were being made to enter the premises by drilling a hole as all the entrances were blocked.
Said RT Mhatre, "The company had initially asked us to only send oxygen supply claiming they would be able to control the fire. We however did not want to take any chances and brought our fleet along. Though we succeeded in putting out the fire in no time, the smoke continues to bellow. We understand, the cold storage inside is packed with chilli and other masalas which is causing the smoke." Mhatre denied initial reports that there had been an ammonia leakage.
Several policemen too had to leave the company premises due to suffocation as at least 10 fire brigades continued to cool the building spraying water and foam.
The company officials refused to comment on the cause of the fire or give other details. Initially the media was prevented from entering the premises. The company officials relented only after heated exchanges.
Navi Mumbai Mayor Manisha Bhoir who visited the cold storage said that she was unaware about the problem of skylifts in Navi Mumbai and that she would look into the issue at the earliest.