A fire official suffered 20 per cent burn injuries and another person suffered minor injuries after a massive fire broke out in the slum of Gautam Nagar in Govandi adjoining the Ghatkopar Mankhurd Link Road early Friday.
According to officials, station officer Sampat Bamble suffered injuries in his face and hands owing to a cylinder blast during the rescue operations.
Bamble was first taken to the civic-run Rajawadi hospital, following which he has been admitted to the Airoli burns institute. A 52-year-old slumdweller, Abdul Salam, suffered minor injuries in the incident. Close to 50 shanties that also housed small factories were completely charred in the incident.
Officials said the fire broke out at 3.51am on Friday. While the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, officials suspect that a cylinder blast in one of the small shoe-making factories could have triggered the blast. The chemicals used in the factory also aggravated the fire. The fire brigade also reported three cylinder blasts that further spread the inferno in the vicinity.
Chief fire officer PS Rahangdale said the civic body will issue an FIR against the dealer for illegal supply of gas cylinders in the area. Rahangdale said, “We will also be writing to all gas companies to take serious cognisance on the supply of illegal gas cylinder in the city.”
A senior fire official present at the spot said the area was congested, lanes were narrow and they had to use hosepipes from the terrace of the adjoining slums to douse the fire.
The fire was so intense that it took the brigade more than four hours to douse it completely. The brigade also called it a level-4 (levels are marked on the scale of 1 to 4 based on the intensity and number of casualties) fire, which called for the deputy chief fire officer and the chief fire officer rush to the spot. The brigade was able to douse the fire around 8.15am.
Civic officials, meanwhile, have started their seizure action in the slum.
Kiran Dighavkar, the ward officer of M-East that includes Govandi, said, "We have asked our licence department to seize all the illegal cylinders stored in the area." Dighavkar added that the close to 40 families that have been rendered homeless after the incident were shifted to the Shivaji Nagar school nearby.
Abdul Rashid, 50, a resident of Gautam Nagar said it was a miracle that people escaped unhurt from the fire.
"I was returning home after my namaaz when I saw the massive fire. We started evacuating people immediately. Some also escaped to the terrace of the adjoining slums. However, we have faced a lot of material loss. My TV, fridge, cupboard are all charred. I have never seen such a massive inferno in 25 years that I have lived in Govandi."
The brigade deployed 16 fire engines, 10 water tankers from the adjoining stations. It also pressed four old fire engines and two water-tankers stationed at the Deonar dumping ground because of continuous fire incident reported at the landfill.