A major fire gutted the basement of Om Heera Panna Mall at Oshiwara in Andheri (West) on Thursday morning. It took the firemen at least 11 hours to douse the blaze that started at 4 am.
“The fire broke out in the basement where a large consignment of LCD television sets were kept,” said Chief Fire Officer Uday Tatkare.
Initially, the firemen could not enter the basement as black smoke billowed out of the narrow entrance and they could not see anything.
They then broke down a wall to clear the smoke, and entered to fight the blaze.
“We found out that Om Heera Panna Mall used part of its basement to store goods, when it should have been reserved for car parking only,” said a fire officer requesting anonymity.
“At least 15 fire engines and six water tankers were rushed to spot to control the blaze,” he added.
The firemen rescued a three-year-old boy, 12 waiters and a nurse, who were trapped inside the mall. Primary investigations suggest that the fire was caused due to a short circuit because the entire electric connection was found burnt down.
“Either a short circuit or a fuel leakage could have caused the fire,” said Inspector Dattatrey Sankhe of the Oshiwara police station. The police will register a case after the investigation is complete.
Though no one was injured in the incident, the fire brigade found major flaws in the fire-fighting system installed at the mall.
“The safety measures, such as sprinkle system, wet-riser system and the mechanical ventilation that keeps the smoke out, were non-functional,” said Chief Fire Officer Uday Tatkare.
“There was a godown created in the car park area of the basement and the fire safety system was non-functional. We will initiate action under the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006 after investigation,” said Tatkare.
The mall administration is likely to face action.
“The people trapped inside were from a clinic and a restaurant located on the third floor. The mall has commercial offices on the ground and the first floor,” said Upendra, manager of the mall.
When asked about the non-functional safety system, he said: “I am not aware of it.”