Wilful negligence by the organisers caused the February 14 blaze that gutted the stage at the gala Maharashtra Night event at Girguam Chowpatty, the Mumbai fire brigade has said in its probe report.
A defective electric circuit provided the spark for the fire that spread rapidly as a lot of combustible material, including LPG cylinders, had been stored below the stage, the report said.
It accused the organisers of not following safety norms. “Inspite of repeated instructions, no heed was paid by the organisers to safety instructions. This act of organizers M/s Wizcraft International Entertainment Pvt limited shows wilful negligence/ wilful flouting of the fire safety instructions.”
The opposition was quick to accuse the government of trying to shift blame on to the organisers.
“The government is responsible for the fire but it is misguiding the common people by blaming an event management company for the same. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had moved the Supreme Court to seek permission to hold the event at Girgaum Chowpatty, even after the high court had denied it on safety grounds. The Supreme Court had clearly instructed them not to use fireworks but they did not follow the instructions,” said city Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam.
The event was organised jointly by the Maharashtra Industries Development Corporation (MIDC) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) as part of the Make in India week. In a release issued here, Sanjay Kirloskar, Chairman, CII Western Region, said that the fire was an unfortunate accident that happened despite necessary precautions. “Wizcraft was mandated by CII to execute and organise the cultural performance and it is unfortunate that an electrical spark could cause such a fire,” he said.
There was no comment from Wizcraft despite repeated attempts to contact them.
The fire that broke out during a dance performance was a major embarrassment for the Maharashtra government. The Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, chief minister Fadnavis, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, and actors Amitabh Bachchan, Amir Khan were just a few feet away from the stage when the fire broke out. No one was hurt as the police and fire brigade swiftly moved people to safety.
The 185-page investigation report submitted to BMC chief Ajoy Mehta on Wednesday says the fire was caused by “a short circuit i.e. electric spark from the electric wirings”, which came in contact with the combustible material stored beneath the stage. This included curtains, wooden planks, plywood sheets, material used for pyrotechnics, LPG cylinders and tins containing paints and inflammable adhesive. “In a major violation of the fire brigade’s directives to the organisers, 15 LPG cylinders were found at the venue. We found one of the LPG cylinders had exploded,” said a fire officer. Chief Fire Officer, P.S. Rahangdale said, “We have conducted a detailed investigation and studied each possibility thoroughly before reaching the conclusion that a defective electric circuit caused the fire.”
The fire brigade has not recommended any action against the organisers but has left it to the police to decide.
BJP city president Ashish Shelar said, “Last week, I have already mentioned that cylinders were used. Now fire probe report has confirmed this.”