To ensure that there is no repeat of Thursday’s fire, the Indian Navy will undertake an extensive fire safety review of heritage buildings that are under its purview.
A fire broke out in an administrative building in the naval dockyard around 4.30pm on Thursday. The fire gutted the top two floors of the 204-year-old structure located near the Lion Gate in Colaba .
The Navy has now set up a board of inquiry to ascertain the exact cause of the fire. The board will also ascertain the extent of damage, and give its recommendations on action to be taken to protect other heritage structures.
Confirming the development, Captain Manohar Nambiar, chief public relations officer for defence, said, “We have ordered a special board of inquiry to investigate the fire and to estimate the extent of damage caused. As of now, no foul play is suspected.”
Preliminary investigations revealed that the fire might be due to an electrical short-circuit. “The building has extensive woodwork and so the fire must have gotten aggravated. The top floor of the building is most damaged,” said Nambiar.
During its investigation, the board will first ascertain how and what caused the fire. Then it will look into the procedures followed by the electrical department of the Navy to ascertain if periodic evaluation of the electrical circuits were carried out.
The inquiry, which should conclude within a month, will also point out any lapses on part of any personnel, and would make recommendations that could be incorporated to protect heritage structures, said sources.
HN Muzawar, chief fire officer, said, “The walls of the building have not been affected. Only the wood and other combustible substance in the building were burnt. It can be restored.”
The police are yet to register a case. “The fire was accidental. There is no need to file a complaint unless the Navy says so,” said an officer from MRA Marg police station.