The blaze at Ackruti Trade Centre in MIDC area of Andheri (East) on Friday night has brought the lack of security measures at commercial complexes in the city back into focus.
In the incident that lasted for over six hours and resulted in the sixth and seventh floors of the commercial structure being completely gutted, the Mumbai fire brigade officials found that the firefighting system in the building was not working properly.
Though there was no casualty, the fire has damaged several corporate offices, resulting in huge loss of property. The commercial centre houses offices of BPO and IT firms and over 4,000 people work in the building.
The occupants said that though a riser system had been installed, it was on manual mode, which means that it could not start unless operated by someone.
Fire officials said that since the entire building has a glass façade, it made rescue operations difficult. When the firemen were dousing the fire, the glass cracked, injuring five of them.
“During inspection we found that the firefighting system in Ackruti Trade Centre was not on. Had it been working, the fire would have been curbed and would not have spread,” a fire brigade official who was involved in rescue operation said.
According to officials, the fire originated from a canteen on the sixth floor at around 9pm and spread to the seventh floor. The flames spread fast and the glass panes of the building burst. “We tried to control the fire from outside as it was impossible to enter the burning floors ,and by the time we got in, both the floors had been gutted,” he said.
Chief fire officer Hasan Mujawar said, “Though there are reports of the fire being caused by a short circuit, it is too early to comment.”
Ackruti has denied the fire equipment was faulty. "Employees present in the building at the time have told us that the fire apparatus was working and that they utilised it before the fire brigade arrived,'' said an Ackruti spokeperson.