The Wafa medical store, which was gutted in a fire that killed nine members of a family, including five children, on Thursday, was served a prosecution notice by the Brihanmumbai Mumbai Corporation (BMC) on June 15 for failing to submit a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the health department, and other documents during an inspection.
As a result, the owner was running the shop without permission at Juhu Galli, in Andheri west. “After the owner failed to submit the documents to the sanitation officer during the inspection last month, a prosecution notice was sent to the owner,” said Parag Masurkar, K-west ward officer.
Like many buildings in Juhu Galli, where there are many slum pockets, the Khan residence also had illegal extensions. Sources said the building’s electric meter was overloaded, which might have led to a short circuit.
The fire brigade is yet to ascertain the exact cause of the fire and will submit its report next week.
Not only was the store illegal, but the illegal extensions made the situation worse. There was a stairway that connected the medical shop on the ground floor to the first and second floors. “Had there been any exit, lives could have been saved,” said a civic official.
However, this is not the first time that narrow roads, congested illegal structures have led to disasters. The fire brigade during the Kalbadevi fire last year, which killed four senior fire officials, faced similar issues in narrow congested roads, old dilapidated structures, and illegal storage of chemicals that escalated the fire.
Similarly, eight people, including seven students from the Don Bosco Institute of Technology, Kurla, died in a fire at Kurla’s City Kinara restaurant.