The fire that broke out at Mantralaya on June 21 seems to have created a new problem for officials at the Maharashtra forensic science laboratory (FSL). They now have to deal with phone calls from people across the city asking them to ‘investigate’ minor fires in their localities. The FSL investigates fires only at the behest of the police.
The FSL, which also investigates cases of suspicious fires, has been receiving at least 10-12 such calls per day. Since the Mantralaya fire, the FSL has received more than a 100 calls from all over the city.
An official said that the calls started after it was reported that a forensic team had visited Mantralaya after the fire. “We suspect they got our number from our website. They have been calling on our landline asking us ‘to rush to the spot’ to investigate fires in their localities,” the official said.
“We tell them to inform the fire brigade at once. They then tell us the fire brigade has been informed, but we should come to investigate the cause of the fire,” added the official.
In one incident, a doctor from Malad called to report a fire that had broken out in his clinic last month. He wanted the FSL to investigate the cause of the fire. Officials told him they could investigate only if the police suspected arson. “He then accused us of having an ‘elitist’ attitude, tackling only high-profile cases such as the Mantralaya fire.”