Fire at Dadar building kills famous psychiatrist
Rajesh Bhapkar, an excise officer who lives in the flat below, said, “I was working out when someone from above came and informed me that there was smoke on the thirteenth floor. We went up, opened the window in the corridor and banged on the doors of the two flats but there was no response. Then we called the watchman, who said it was possibly smoke from a mosquito coil”
Mumbai: Sixty-year-old Dr Sachin Patkar, a renowned psychiatrist with a private practice in Dadar, Sion and Peddar Road, died in a fire that broke out at his thirteenth-floor flat in Raintree building in Dadar East on Saturday morning. The Level One fire was reported at 8.37 am and restricted to household articles, said officials from the Mumbai fire brigade. The fire brigade arrived at 8.44 am and extinguished the fire by 9.06 am. Investigation into the cause of the fire is still going on.
The firemen broke into Dr Patkar’s flat, 1302, and took him to Sion Hospital, where he was declared ‘brought dead’. The cause of death is believed to be suffocation.
Rajesh Bhapkar, an excise officer who lives in the flat below, said, “I was working out when someone from above came and informed me that there was smoke on the thirteenth floor. We went up, opened the window in the corridor and banged on the doors of the two flats but there was no response. Then we called the watchman, who said it was possibly smoke from a mosquito coil.”
The residents were finally alerted by a stranger who rushed to the building after seeing smoke emanating from it. The fire brigade was then called while the watchman went to every flat to tell residents to evacuate. Dr Patkar’s neighbour in 1301 was not present at the time of the fire, but after returning, came to an unscathed house.
Shalini Akshikar, an elderly lady on the sixth floor, said that some building residents rushed to her flat to take her downstairs. After a two-hour wait downstairs while the fire brigade, police, lift and electricity in-charge inspected the building, she and the other residents were allowed to return to their homes. “They told us not to use the gas stove for a while, so I’m a little worried,” she said.
A resident on the fourth floor said that a fire alarm did ring but only after they had already been told to evacuate in person by the watchman. Chief fire officer Ravindra Ambulgekar said the building was fire-complaint and had a working fire-fighting system, which was utilised.
Dr Patkar comes from a family of renowned psychiatrists. He is the son of a highly respected senior psychiatrist Dr A P Patkar, who, at around 90, was the head of the psychiatry department at Nair Hospital. His elder brother, Dr Ashwin Patkar, is also a psychiatrist who practices in the US. His wife, Dr Varsha Patkar, specialises in counselling and psychotherapy. He is survived by two children.
Dr Patkar completed his graduation and post-graduation with distinction from G S Medical College attached to KEM Hospital. Dr Vihang Vahia, consultant psychiatrist at Breach Candy Hospital and professor emeritus at Cooper Hospital and HBT medical college, remembered him as a resident doctor during his training at Cooper Hospital around 30 years ago. “He was a smiling, handsome young man who was fun-loving,” said Dr Vahia. “He had wonderful cars and was extremely fond of speed. He told me he went on the Concorde, the supersonic jet.”
Dr Patkar worked as a senior psychiatrist at the Masina Parsi Hospital for over ten years. Dr Avinash DeSouza, who worked here with him for a year, said, “His expertise was addictions and he also worked in psychiatric rehabilitation.”
Dr Patkar was a pioneer of the psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU). “This is used for substance-abuse patients who are going through an acute withdrawal phase,” said Dr DeSouza. “They require constant monitoring, and Dr Patkar would manage it very well.”
Speaking about Dr Patkar’s personality, he said, “He was always very friendly, outgoing and supportive and enthusiastic about bringing new psychiatric treatments and interventions to India. He was very kind and helpful to his students. The loss of any psychiatrist is a massive loss because there were so many patients under him and so many depend on psychiatry.”
The Raintree fire follows a massive Level Three fire that raged in Heera Panna Mall in Oshiwara on Friday evening, in which 20 people had to be rescued by the fire brigade. “Heera Panna mall was not fire-compliant so we are sending them a notice,” said chief fire officer Ravindra Ambulgekar, adding that the mall did have a fire-fighting system but it was not working. “So we will give them eight to ten days to comply,” he said.