Short circuit or spark? What may have caused Make in India event fire

  • Saurabh M Joshi, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 15, 2016 14:33 IST
The Stage goes up in flames on Maharashtra Night at Girgaum Chowpatty in Mumbai, India, on Sunday, February 14, 2016. (Hindustan Times)

Police collected evidence on Monday from five exhibits gutted during a fire at a Make in India event in Mumbai’s Girgaum Chowpatty to be sent to forensic laboratories to ascertain if any foul play was behind the accident.

Police at the DB Marg station said they will record statements of the technical staff, organizers and performers around the stage when the fire broke out.

“We have collected samples from the core area where the fire was first spotted. The investigation will focus on the part of sabotage and we will look into the sequence of incidents,” said an officer.

Read more: Fire at Make in India event in Mumbai: Sabotage angle to be probed

Watch: Moment fire broke out at Mumbai’s ‘Make in India’ event

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has ordered an inquiry but a bureaucrat in the chief minister’s office said the reason for the fire hadn’t been found.

Two possible reasons for the fire could either be short circuit or a spark due to pyrotechnics, said a fire brigade official.

Although fire brigade officials cleared the chowpatty, two major structures near the state and two cranes, which were used to raise the stage, could not be moved.

“The fire brigade officials informed us that wires inside the cranes were damaged due to the fire, so they cannot be operated. Now, towing vehicles will be brought to move these trains out,” local Shiv Sena leader Pandurang Sankpal said.

Officials said that a team of forensic experts from Kalina will visit the spot and collect more samples.

The final report will be constituted by the police and will consist of the fire brigade and forensic reports. The investigators added in case any negligence or sabotage, a criminal case will be registered against concerned persons.

“All the related agencies are looking into the incident and are coordinating with each other thoroughly. It is not a time bound probe and all angles will be looked into,” said Dhananjay Kulkarni, deputy commissioner and Mumbai police spokesperson.

The staff of the event management company went through the charred remains of the fire to collect small equipment that were not damaged , sources said.

The fire broke out a little after 8pm at the event, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Make in India week to exhort global business giants to set up base in the country.

A performance of the Maharashtrian folk dance performance, Lavni, was going on at the time with around 15,000 people in attendance.

People noticed flames under the stage and stopped the performance. In no time, the fire had spread to the entire stage and police evacuated the audience within minutes.

Dignitaries such as Fadnavis, Maharshtra governor Vidyasagar Rao, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, film personalities Amitabh Bacchan, Hema Malini, Amir Khan, Vivek Oberoi, Shreyas Talpade, Isha Koppikar were at the venue.

What happened at Girgaum chowpatty on Sunday evening?

8.07pm: Amitabh Bacchan finishes his poetry recital

8.17pm: Actor Puja Sawant starts performing Lavni as the last part of traditional dance celebration

8.20pm: Fire can be seen at the front of the state. It spread fast forcing performing dance troupe to exit the stage

8.22pm: A Fire engine reaches near the stage

8.25pm: Dignitaries being evacuated to safer place. Meanwhile, crowd starts leaving the venue. Many take video shooting of the fire

8.30pm: Fire engulfs entire stage with huge flames; Police starts removing inflammable material like plastic chairs, mattress

8.45pm: 14 fire tenders and 10 water tankers at the spot

9:15pm: Fire flames vanish

9.20pm: CM arrives the spot, takes a stock

9:25pm: CM announces inquiry

9.51pm: Fire doused. Debries shouldering

11.03pm: Civic chief arrives the spot, ask officials to clear debries as soon as possible

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