84 rescued as fire engulfs Mumbai MTNL building
The Mumbai fire brigade on Monday rescued 84 people after a fire engulfed third and fourth floors of a 10-storey Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) building in Bandra West. Mostly MTNL employees working on the building’s fifth floor and above rushed to its rooftop and were stranded there when the fire began at 3.11 pm. The rescue work was carried out using ladders that turn in any direction and have small platforms.
Officials said 175 fire brigade personnel and 40 labourers were involved in the rescue operation. A 25-year-old fireman, Sagar Salve, was hospitalised after he inhaled smoke. He was reported to be stable. No other injuries were reported.
As many as 14 fire engines, seven water tankers, three turn table ladders, 14 ambulances and a recently introduced fire fighting robot was rushed to MTNL building. Rescue operations went on until late in the evening and the fire brigade managed to rescue the last employee stranded on the rooftop by 6.45 pm.
“The entire building was smoke logged, making fire fighting operations very challenging. All people who were trapped on the rooftop were evacuated using our turntable ladders,” said chief fire officer P Rahangdale. He said they approached the fire from seven points around the building. He said their reinforcements could not reach the spot because of the vehicles parked on approach road leading to the building. “Managing the crowd was another challenge.”
The smoke spread to approximately 500 metre radius and prompted authorities to vacate at least five to six residential buildings in the vicinity.
Watch | Fire at MTNL building in Mumbai, many feared trapped
Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar said a preliminary investigation showed a short circuit caused the fire. “In 2018, the building had conducted a fire audit.” Additional municipal commissioner Ashwini Joshi said, “As per the primary information available with me, the building was not fire compliant.”
Hiralal Yadav, a technician who was stuck in the building, said they found there was a fire as they saw thick smoke coming up to their floor. “Since we were on the fifth floor, we chose to walk down and got stuck in the smoke on the third floor. We held hands, formed a chain...and walked out.”
Kailash Yadav, another technician, said there was so much smoke that they could not see the stairs while climbing down.