The ground-plus-two storey garment-cutting unit at Saint Augustine Chawl at Khotwadi in Santacruz (W) that caught fire on Thursday morning was illegal and had flouted civic norms.
Three workers, who were sleeping on the first-floor of AB Apparels, were charred to death as the fire gutted the structure within minutes.
“The first and the second floors are illegally constructed. We have demolished the two floors and will issue a notice to the unit owner,” said M.M.Kshirsagar, assistant municipal commissioner, H-west ward office.
Unit owner Kamlesh Chamaria refused comment on the irregularities and the fire.
“The unit had permission only for a ground floor and extension up to 14 ft high. But the structure was more than 28 ft high,” he added.
The unit, located in one of the oldest locales in Santacruz, housed a front office and a storage room on the ground floor and garment cutting on the first and second floors.
The municipal body has started surveying units for irregularities and will issue notices to those found violating norms.
As the unit is located in a narrow, congested bylane — barely a few feet wide — it was very difficult for the fire brigade to douse the blaze because they had to park their tankers and vehicles two lanes away.
“Due to the narrow lanes our machinery couldn’t reach the spot. We had to carry the water hose to the spot,” said Uday Tatkare, chief fire officer. “It, however, didn’t hamper the fire fighting process.”
After the firemen doused the blaze by 8.30 am, they found the three bodies on the first floor.
Lalji Vaidya (20), Ramesh Katotra (19) and Ramdev Jala (20), who hail from Kutch, were charred to death, while their colleagues, Pravin Choudhary (21), Hitesh Chamaria (20) and Ranjeet Jadeja (20), who were sleeping on the ground floor, had a narrow escape.
“The deceased couldn’t escape as they was one narrow internal staircase and the room was filled with smoke. The entire structure was gutted within minutes,” said Kshirsagar.