Operations to douse south Mumbai mall fire continue for over 48 hours
Forty-eight hours after a fire broke out at Mumbai Central’s City Centre Mall, efforts were on to douse the blaze on Saturday. The Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) said that the fire is under control but there are isolated spots where smaller flames continued to break out owing to minor explosions of mobile batteries and chargers that were stored inside the mall.
On Saturday at 7.05pm, 55-year-old firefighter Chandrashekhar Sawant was rushed to in Nair Hospital after he complained of suffocation. On Friday, five firemen, including a deputy fire officer, were hospitalised due to suffocation. However, no civilian injuries were reported in the incident.
The fire was reported in a shop on the second floor of the mall at 8.53pm on Thursday, as a level 1 (small fire). It soon spread to other floors and the Mumbai fire brigade declared it a brigade call – level 5, a rare event in which the chief fire officer is required to be present – at 2.42am.
More than 250 firefighters are at the spot since Thursday night to douse the blaze and have utilised 228 tankers for freighting.
“The mall is spread on a huge area, with around 400 shops on every floor. The major problem which we are facing is that the fire flames are falling from the ceiling, owing to which we are unable to move without restrictions to douse the blaze. Our risks are very calculated, and so the operations are taking time. Also, there is a huge presence of mobile batteries, chargers, power banks, all which have high potential to explode,” said an MFB official.
The MFB said it has yet not found any fire safety violations inside the mall yet as a part of its investigations into the cause behind the blaze. “Prima facie, we have found that there were sprinklers, but we will investigate if there was adequate fire safety equipment and if they were functional. Currently, the focus is on dousing the fire and the task is getting difficult as some shops where the mini blasts are taking place have closed down shutters,” the MFB official said.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), too, said that it did not find any structural violations that jeopardised fire safety. Prashant Gaikwad, assistant municipal commissioner, said, “We have checked our records and a few alterations were made, for which the permissions were issued by BMC. We will match the plan with the actual spot after the fire is doused. But we will issue a notice to the owners of the mall for verifying the documents.”
On Saturday around 1am, Shiv Sena legislator and cabinet minister Aaditya Thackeray, who is also the city’s guardian minister, inspected the site. “Just visited the location of the fire incident at the City Centre Mall. I’ve been taking updates on it constantly. Thankfully till now there is no injury to human life. Our brave jawans of Mumbai Fire Brigade have worked along with technology like fire dousing robots successfully,” Thackeray tweeted.
On Friday, around 3,500 residents of the nearby Orchid Enclave, a 55-storey building were vacated to safety, after thick smoke engulfed the building premises.
“Now, we don’t mind if the residents wish to go back to their homes. But the direction of the smoke may change anytime due to wind pattern. The smoke is very thick and hence we have suggested the residents to stay where they are for the next one or two days till we are done with cooling operations,” the MFB official said on Saturday.