Fire at 60-storey in Mumbai; 1 dead

A Level Four (serious emergency call) fire in the 60-storey One Avighna Park at Currey Road in central Mumbai claimed the life of the building’s security guard on Friday morning. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) announced an administrative probe following residents’ complaints.
A fire was reported in an apartment on the 19th floor at 11.51 am on Friday. No other casualty was reported. (Pratik Chorge/HT PHOTO)
A fire was reported in an apartment on the 19th floor at 11.51 am on Friday. No other casualty was reported. (Pratik Chorge/HT PHOTO)
Published on Oct 23, 2021 01:16 AM IST
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ByEeshanpriya MS and Vijay Kumar Yadav, Mumbai

A Level Four (serious emergency call) fire in the 60-storey One Avighna Park at Currey Road in central Mumbai claimed the life of the building’s security guard on Friday morning. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) announced an administrative probe following residents’ complaints.

A 30-year-old man, identified as Arun Tiwari, fell to his death from the 19th floor as fire and smoke engulfed an apartment on the same floor. A fire was reported in an apartment on the 19th floor at 11.51 am on Friday. No other casualty was reported. The Mumbai fire brigade rescued 16 residents trapped in smoke-filled corridors, gave each of them breathing apparatus, and brought them to safety using the building’s staircase.

A video of Tiwari falling to his death was shared multiple times on social media on Friday. In the video, shot by an unknown person and shared on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook, Tiwari is seen clinging onto the parapet outside the 19th floor window as smoke billowed from an adjoining balcony. He lost his grip over the concrete and, according to eye-witnesses from the Mumbai fire brigade, Tiwari fell on the fire truck parked below, and then fell on the ground. He was rushed to the nearby KEM hospital in an ambulance, where he was declared brought dead.

“At 12.55 pm, we clinically evaluated the casualty, conducted an electrocardiogram, and declared the person dead. His body was handed to the police,” said Pravin Bangar, chief medical officer of KEM hospital.

Tiwari’s death occurred a few minutes after fire engines and equipment, including a turntable ladder, reached the spot. The turntable ladder entered the premises from the main gate, which was parallel to where Tiwari fell from. A fire truck was stationed on the side Tiwari was trying to escape the fire from. By the time the fire brigade directed the turntable ladder for this rescue, Tiwari fell off the building onto the fire truck, a fire officer said.

Another senior officer from the fire brigade said, “It is unclear why Tiwari went up to the 19th floor during or immediately after the fire, or whether he was already there before the fire broke out. It is also unclear if he went to rescue any trapped residents, or went to check if the floor was clear, and then got stuck there due to smoke.”

The fire was fanned further by the high wind speed on the 19th floor, and thick smoke had engulfed the corridor. “This may have compromised his visibility, and made breathing difficult. Imagine the state of the person trapped in such a space,” the fire official said.

As there is no other eyewitness, it is also unclear how he accessed this area. The senior fire official quoted above said, “The fire was reported in apartment 1901, which was occupied. The security person is seen at the window of this flat itself. It is likely he went to check if there were any residents still trapped in the flat. More details are awaited.” Another security person from the building said, “The window on the floor below was open. It looks like Tiwari must have thought he could access that window from the parapet, jump into the flat below, and escape. But he missed and fell to the ground.”

Tiwari hails from Prayagraj (earlier Allahabad) in Uttar Pradesh, and had worked as a security guard with Stealth Management Solutions for more than six years.

Tiwari’s brother-in-law Jitendra Tripathi said, “Tiwari’s father died a few years back. His mother lives with his elder brother in UP. The family is poor, and this forced Arun to pick up a security job in Mumbai. It’s an unfortunate incident. The security company and the (residential) society should help his family.”

Tiwari’s uncle Dinesh Pandey said, “Tiwari supported his family which won’t be able to take the body to his home town. It’s the security firm and local administration’s responsibility to help the family get his body,” said Dinesh Pandey.

A colleague of Tiwari said that he was a good human being and was hard working. “It’s a very sad and unfortunate event. Our security firm said they are helping the grieving family and relatives, and ensuring that they are not harassed over paperwork.” The relatives after post mortem report will take the body to the native place for final rituals. Hopefully his family gets some compensation,” the guard said.

Kalachowki police station’s senior police inspector Anand Muley said, “The police have not received any complaint against anyone. Therefore, an accidental death report is being registered. To ascertain the exact sequence of events, our officers are recording statement of colleagues of the deceased person.”

One Avighna Park has two wings, A and B; the fire was reported in the latter. According to a member of its maintenance and management team, the building has approximately 60% occupancy. Each floor has two to four flats.

“The fire alarm went off after the fire, and residents vacated the building,” he said. “Some were trapped due to smoke, and were rescued by the fire brigade.” The firefighting system of the building was functional, but was not operational as soon as the fire occurred. The fire brigade manually started the fire fighting system, which helped douse the fire.

The senior fire brigade officer quoted above said, “Fortunately, the fire was on the 19th floor. The fire brigade’s 90-metre ladder was used to contain the fire with a high-pressure hose pipe. This allowed us early entry and to fight the fire from within. Due to wind velocity at that height, it is difficult to match the speed of the spread of fire with our firefighting operations. Had the fire been on any floor higher than the 25th, it would have been challenging.”

Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, and Mayor Kishori Pednekar visited the building.

Chahal said, “I have ordered an administrative probe into the fire, following complaints from residents. Based on the report of this probe, appropriate action will be initiated.” Pednekar said, “Arun Tiwari, one of the security person’s jumped out of a window and tried to save his life after a fire broke out on the 19th floor of One Avighna Park. Unfortunately, this led to his death. Tiwari’s life could have been saved if the building’s security or similar personnel had provided emergency assistance before the fire brigade arrived.”

Pednekar also said residents of the building have complained to the developer that there is a lot of work pending due to non-transfer to the society residents and this has led to the fire. The mayor directed the administration to take necessary action after conducting a proper inquiry into the complaint.

Kailash Agarwal, chairperson of Nish Developers, the company that constructed One Avighna Park, said, “The building’s fire safety is one of the best in the world. I had procured the system from Norway by spending around 10 crore. I have also been regularly conducting fire drills and submitting fire audit reports to the competent authorities.” Chief Fire Officer Hemant Dattatray Parab said, “The most recent fire safety compliance documents (form B) of the building, which is supposed to be submitted between January and July each year, cannot be found in the fire brigade’s records at present.”

However, a fire drill was conducted in the building in the first week of October this year.

Aaditya Thackeray, state cabinet minister and guardian minster for Mumbai suburbs, also visited the spot. He tweeted, “Visited the spot of the unfortunate fire incident at One Avighna Park and met with the rescued residents of the building. Fire has been doused and cooling ops are underway. I met and thanked the brave jawans of the Mumbai Fire Brigade for their swift response.”

In another tweet, Thackeray said, “This incident in a high rise building only reiterates how important fire safety drills, fire safety norms like sprinklers, fire refuge areas are in every building.”

At the time of going to press, Kalachowkie police had registered a case of negligence against those concerned under relevant sections of IPC and Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act.

Unverified video surfaces on social media

In a video doing the rounds on social media on Friday night, a man named Rohit Rathod identified himself as the owner of flat 1902 at Avighna Park, one of the houses affected by the fire. In the video, that originated from an unknown source, Rohit said, “There was a fire in my house of Friday. My daughter called and informed me of the fire in our house. I returned home from my store, and saw that the entire entrance was engulfed by the fire. We tried to extinguish the fire with an extinguisher but that did not help.”

Rohit added, “We tried to use the firefighting system of the building, and thought only water will douse the fire. But the system did not work and there was no water in it. The sprinklers were not working. None of the firefighting systems in the building worked and the fire rapidly spread - to the kitchen, bedrooms, everywhere. My neighbours saved my children. The fire alarm did not go off.”

Reacting to it, Kailash Agarwal, Chairman of Avighna Group said, “He (the one who alleged) is protecting himself as fire was in his house and he left his house, asked facility team on ground floor to assist and went out of building and came back at 5pm. He is saying there was fire at the gate, when the fire was in the house. The basic question is that if the fire system didn’t work, how was the fire doused? Firefighting system was 100% in place and worked very well.”

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