Contradicting fire officials on the functionality of their fire safety equipment, residents of the 17-storey ‘Kanchan Ganga’ building in Andheri, said their fire safety equipment had no problem whatsoever.
The 12th floor of the building was gutted in a fire on Thursday, in which three women were injured and the 13th and 14th floors also completely damaged. Three women of the society have been hospitalised with injuries. One of them is critical with 85% burns.
Fire officials blamed the building’s fire safety equipment saying it was not fit to control the fire, as it was not functional. “I was present and saw that the safety equipment was not functional. The water came from their overhead tank yet neither the guards nor anyone else knew how to operate the equipment,” said chief fire officer, Uday Tatkare.
Residents denied this. “Our fire equipment was completely functional. In fact, most of the water used for extinguishing the fire came from our water tanks,” said Satyajeet Puri, resident of the 16th floor of the building.
Bindu Bhosle, whose mother lives alone in the building, blamed the society for not having efficient safety measures. “The fire equipment is old and not up to the mark and no one knows how to use them,” Bhosle said.
Residents of the 17-storey building have no electricity at the moment and there was no water connection till Friday evening. It may take two more days for electricity to be restored. This is because while distinguishing the fire, water may have entered the wires, which could cause a shot-circuit. “I will be moving to my friend’s place as there is no electricity. In fact, most of us were on the ground floor throughout the day except for the elderly members. We provided them necessary things like food,” Puri said.
Two children were alone in the flat on the 12th floor watching television when it caught fire. “The children were saved as they rushed down to the ninth floor to inform neighbours about the fire,” said Nasir Sayyed, volunteer, Mahanshakti Trust, an NGO that came to help the affected.
While the flat owned by Vasudev Agarwal was completely burnt, the temple in the house was untouched. “Our entire house has burnt but the temple with the holy Gita, and other objects of worship are completely unaffected,” Agarwal said.