Of the 4,303 fires reported in the city this year, almost 70% of them were caused by defective electric circuit systems and wiring, the fire department has said.
Careless disposal of inflammable material, chemical reactions, hot ashes and chemical reactions are other causes.
Data provided by the Mumbai Fire Brigade shows that 3,131 cases of fire reported in the city were caused because of hanging wires and a poorly maintained circuit system. “Tripping of electrical circuits often leads to a spark which is aggravated into a fire if the space is not properly managed. Moreover, if stacks of paper or combustible material are dumped carelessly, the situation gets worse,” said Pankaj Joshi, executive director, Urban Design Research Institute.
Experts also emphasised that basic preventive maintenance of electrical circuits was key to avoiding most fires in the city. “A tiny spark can lead to a fire emergency. So, it boils down to basic housekeeping and maintenance of electrical meters and distribution boards,” said architect Nitin Killawala, adding that citizens often neglect minor maintenance of electrical installations.
“Refuge areas are often used by residents as storage or habitable areas. Most of the fire regulations therefore become only in name,” he said.
The data showed that 833 cases of fire were reported because of careless disposal of inflammables, while the causes for 109 cases of the blazes are still being investigated.
Experts also said that observing three levels of safety were imperative to avoid any fire from breaking out: maintenance of main circuit breaker, earth leakage circuit breaker and distribution board. “Most of the buildings fail to keep their circuit breakers and distribution boards in good order,” said Joshi.