The fire that broke out on Tuesday morning at Savla Foods and Cold Storage Pvt Ltd in Navi Mumbai continued to rage throughout Wednesday. Firemen said the heat within the premises prevented them from entering it and also vapourised the water that was being sprayed.
The walls of the multi-storey building were being pulled down by drilling holes and with the help of a crane and JCBs. Almost 300 fire personnel, over hundred water tankers and several specialised fire fighting vehicles were deployed throughout the day.
Two employees of the company, Ram Bhanushali and Ramesh Savla, missing since Tuesday, remained untraced. "It is very unlikely that they have survived. Even if they have managed to confine themselves in a compartment to escape the fire and heat, the suffocation due to smoke could be fatal. We are, however, hoping for the best and continuing our efforts," said a fire official on condition of anonymity.
Forty hours after the fire broke out at around 9.30 am on Tuesday, firemen were still finding it difficult to control the blaze, said Said Navi Mumbai Fire officer RT Mhatre.
"There is so much stock within the company premises that the fire simply refuses to die down. The entire cold storage seems to have been packed with material. There are simply no passages to get in. We have been drilling holes in the walls and trying to spray water from various sides," Mhatre said.
By evening the fire personnel had managed to reach the third floor only, even as the fire raged. Later, the fire personnel summoned a crane to pull down the walls and speed up the fire fighting operation. Several huge holes were made in the cold storage walls.
During the day, senior fire officials from Mumbai, including Chief Fire training officer of the State Fire training College, Santa Cruz, SN Waghmare, arrived at the company and provided inputs.
The clients of the cold storage, whose consignments had been stored in the premises too arrived and demanded to know about the situation.
Fire officials said it was too early to gauge the loss, as their priority was to contain the fire.
Fire officials have also indicated that the cause and related aspects of the fire will be thoroughly probed. Said a fire official, "We understand that some welding work was being carried out in the building, which led to the fire. There are also reports of the fire exit lobbies being blocked with the cold storage stock, blocking escape routes and also hampering firefighting operations."
The company officials continued to remain tightlipped.