A fire broke out in Metro House at Colaba Causeway, a busy commercial street, gutting the entire third floor of the 150-year-old building and completely destroying the wooden structure inside the building.
Fire brigade officials informed that the wooden staircase in the heritage structure collapsed, making rescue efforts even more challenging. No casualties were reported and the fire brigade officials recued three people from the building.
Officials from the fire department said that the fire was under control at the Metro building at around 11.15pm. However, cooling operations were underway and it would take another two to three hours at least to complete the operation.
“The main stairs of the building collapsed and the building is also in precarious condition. There was some technical glitch in the fire hydrant but we got back up on time. Due to traffic, there was a minor delay in receiving water tankers from Azad Nagar filling points,” said PS Rahangdale, chief fire officer, said.
The fire, which broke out at Venus Residency located on the first floor, quickly spread to the fourth floor of the building. It houses two popular restaurants, a hotel, a guest house and several offices. Soon the entire building was engulfed. While the fire brigade officials said they thought they had controlled the fire by evening, it aggravated around 7pm, completely gutting the third floor that houses a popular eatery.
Fire brigade officials who were already struggling to control the fire due to lack of fire-fighting operation inside the building and old wooden structure also faced water shortage which aggravated the fire second time and led to delay in containing the inferno. There was a delay of nearly 40-45 minutes to get for water supply.
Initially, 18 fire engines, 12 water tankers and four ambulances were pressed into service. Later the water tankers were increased to 18. Four fire tenders from Naval Dockyard had also joined the fire brigade in controlling the fire.
Officials informed that the wind velocity, storage of tar on the terrace, old wooden structure of the building, and nearly 500 to 700 air conditioning units aggravated the difficulties in containing the fire. The area of the building which houses an eatery and a shoe store has been completely destroyed in the fire.
Fire brigade in time removed cylinders which were stored which could have led to major disaster. Colaba causeway close to landmarks like Gateway and Taj Mahal Hotel is one of the popular getaways for shoppers and tourists alike and is one of the busiest shopping streets in the city with numerous hawkers, art galleries, and museum donning the area. Until a new notice the shopping area will be shut.
“Fire audit and structural audit of the entire building will be conducted. Hawkers will not be allowed in the area till then,” said IA Kundan, additional municipal commissioner.