Civic officials have said they will probe whether illegal modifications were made to the basement of Bombay House, making dousing Wednesday’s fire difficult.
The fire, which broke out in the basement of the building that houses the Tata Group’s headquarters, killed three people and injured two.
“It could be a case of violation of development control rules,” a civic official said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media. According to the DC rules, basements can only be used for parking or storage. A fire brigade official, who was at the spot, said the basement of Bombay House had a small office, a cafeteria, a small substation for power supply, an auditorium and a changing room.
Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said she had asked the deputy municipal commissioner of the zone to submit a report on the alleged violation of development control rules.
The Tata Group did not respond to queries sent by the Hindustan Times. A spokesperson said: “Right now, the priority is to be with the victims’ families. We will respond later.”
Fire brigade officials also pointed out that basic fire safety rules were not being followed in the building. The rules specify that the basement should have ventilation, the entry and exit points of the basement should be free of encroachments and fire-fighting apparatus such as the riser system and water hydrants should be in working condition.
“First, there was no ventilation. All the windows were sealed with plywood. There was no space for free movement in the basement,” said a fire officer, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media. “The canteen and auditorium were being used illegally. We will investigate the incident and submit report within two days.”
Fire brigade officials said the fire-fighting equipment in the basement was in working condition but was on manual mode, which did not help. The first report on the incident will be available in 24 hours.
— Inputs from Manu Toms