Two people were injured in a fire that broke out in a stall where illegal gas cylinders were stocked by a firm supplying them on commission, behind Eternity Mall near Teen Hath Naka in Thane (West) on Saturday afternoon.
Ramakrishna Shinde, 30, and Nitin Shetty, 24, who worked as drivers, were admitted to a private hospital with 55% burns.
The roof of the unauthorised stall was blown off in the fire. The stall was among 128 others constructed on a plot owned by the civic body. There are Chinese food stalls and welding shops among others.
Chandra Kotian, a co-worker of those injured, said they supplied cylinders on commission. “I had gone out for lunch and I came to know about the incident after my boss called me. The stall used to be our office a year ago, but we shifted to a nearby place. We used this stall as a storeroom when one of our tempos broke down and there was no place to store them,” Kotian said.
Though chief fire officer Arvind Mandke and deputy civic commissioner Dr Sudhir Bhathankar refused to comment, fire officials said workers were playing cards in the stall when one of them lit a match and a fire erupted. Fire officials sealed two tempos with more cylinders – mostly filled ones.
The civic body’s public relations officer, Sandeep Malvi, said, “It was a plot provided by the corporation to rehabilitate people whose shops were destroyed during road-widening or other civic works. There were more than 120 stalls in the premises. The stall that caught fire had illegally stocked cylinders. We don’t know whether they belong to HPCL or BPCL. The stall, which had been rented, did not have the requisite corporation licence. It was absolutely illegal.”
Malvi had no answer to why no action was taken against the stall owner for illegally stocking more than 50 residential and commercial cylinders.
Senior police inspector BR Choudhary of Wagle Estate police station said, “We have registered a case against Yashwant Shetty, who owns the stall, for illegally stocking gas cylinders as the stall did not have a municipal licence.”